On November 29, 2010, a report produced by CNN revealed information about three studies that had been presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. One of the studies showed that “walking may slow cognitive decline in adults diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as benefiting brains of healthy adults.” The head researcher explained that brain volume is an important indicator in brain health; if the brain volume is decreasing that means that brain cells are dying, if the volume is maintained then brain health is being maintained. The participants reported distance walked in a week and had their brain volume monitored using MRI scans. The study shows that the greater the distance walked, the better the brain’s health is preserved.
Researchers recognize that regular walking is not a cure for devastating illnesses like Alzheimer’s, but it can increase the brains resistance to the disease and slow memory loss over time. The study showed that people who walk about one mile a day can reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s Disease by 50%. This link to the BBC contains an interview with Dr. Cyrus Raji, the study’s lead researcher where he talks about the important mind/body health connection at play in this correlation. With an aging population and no current cure for Alzheimer’s, simply walking could be a valuable tool to protect not only the physical health of our population, but mental health too.