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Walking Protects Against Alzheimer’s

A new Alzheimer’s study that used MRI scans was recently conducted at the University of Pittsburgh. Researchers recruited more than 400 older adult subjects–some with Alzheimer’s, some with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and some with no signs of dementia. Physical activity was monitored, and each patient underwent two MRI brain scans approximately 10 years apart. In a press release, the study’s lead author, Cyrus Raji, Ph.D., described the results: “We found that walking five miles per week protects the brain structure over 10 years in people with Alzheimer’s and MCI, especially in areas of the brain’s key memory and learning centers.”

Mental exam scores dropped an average of five points over five years among patients with cognitive impairment who were physically inactive. But scores for physically active patients dropped only one point on average. Dr. Raji also noted that patients who walked five miles per week showed slower decline in memory loss over five years. There was also good news for the healthy, dementia-free subjects. Those who walked at least six miles per week maintained normal brain volume and significantly reduced risk of cognitive decline. Dr. Raji: “Volume is a vital sign for the brain. When it decreases, that means brain cells are dying. But when it remains higher, brain health is being maintained.” 

Whenever someone asks me what I want as a gift, I usually remember to say more IQ points.  Key take away – stay active to help keep the brain healthier longer.

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