We know walking can lower the blood pressure, boost the immune system , prevent the progression of Type II Diabetes , as well as stave off weight gain . But since 2004, studies are showing that walking may also “ward off Alzheimer’s disease.” How that comes about may be explained by studying the brain.
What causes Alzheimer’s disease occurs in the brain. Over time, in some, plaque begins to build up in the brain causing that plaque to clutter and destroy the organ. Once diagnosed with the disease, there are various treatments that can relieve its symptoms -- from mild symptoms such as short-term memory loss and confusion, to more severe symptoms like the loss of bodily functions and the inability to recognize people. The great news is this: since the medical community now knows what causes the disease, it is also learning how to prevent that plaque from building up in the brain as well. One approach, according to the study, is by taking drugs that treat the cause, not just the symptoms of Alzheimer.
Clinical studies show a number of drugs are on the horizon in treating the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Neurochem, Inc., is the maker of a new not-yet-approved drug called Alzhemed® . This is an experimental drug treatment for those suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The drug goes directly to the brain and tackles the plaque buildup, thus preventing the progression of the disease in some, and perhaps even the development of the disease in others.
The next question, then, is how does walking fit into the treatment or prevention of Alzheimer’s disease? That’s the other approach. According to an article titled Effect of Physical Activity on Cognitive Function in Older Adults at Risk for Alzheimer Disease appearing in the Volume 300 No. 9, September 3, 2008 issue of the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) “many observational studies have shown that physical activity reduces the risk of cognitive decline…among older adults at increased risk of dementia.” The author(s) of this new study, however, wanted evidence supporting the findings. A new 18-month study, conducted between 2004 and 2007 in Western Australia, then involved a controlled group of those reporting memory problems who performed physical activity in order to measure the effect of the activity on the brain. Participants were encouraged to perform a physical activity for a period of 50 minutes, three times each week. The physical activity more frequently recommended by a “trained physical activity staff member was walking.” After the controlled study, the results concluded that “adults with subjective memory impairment, a 6-month program of physical activity provided a modest improvement in cognition...” (JAMA. 2008;300:1027-1037). Additionally, included in that same study (also a reiteration of a 2009 article written by the Detroit Walking Fitness Examiner : “Because 10 000 steps per day are associated with improved health outcomes, participants with a weekly step count greater than or equal to 70 000 were classified as active and the remainder, nonactive.”
That’s how taking a walk everyday can play a significant role in the treatment, and possible prevention, of the relief of the symptoms of early onset of Alzheimer’s disease, or dementia.
So, in addition to the old adage “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” here’s a potential new one: A walk a day keeps Alzheimer away. Help ward off this ravenous disease by treating the body to a daily brisk walk.
Always Remember: Consult your physician before starting any exercise and/or diet regimen.