Posted on 09/09/2022 06:00 / Updated on 09/09/2022 06:07
(Credit: Carlos Vieira/CB/DA Press)
Walking between 3,800 and 9,800 steps per day, at a good pace, can significantly reduce your risk of developing dementia, according to an article published in the journal Jama Neurology. The study, which looked at data from 78,000 people between the ages of 40 and 79, adjusted for several factors, including age, gender, race, education, smoking, alcohol use, diet, medication use, sleep, and a history of cardiovascular disease. Several previous studies show a positive association between regular physical activity and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other diseases that lead to the gradual loss of cognitive abilities.
“Our findings suggest that approximately 9,800 steps per day may be ideal for reducing the risk of dementia,” write the researchers at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense. This habit was associated with a 50% lower risk of dementia. However, those who can’t walk as much can also benefit from walking: “We estimated a minimum dose of about 3,800 steps per day, which was associated with a 25% lower incidence of dementia,” according to the article. A number of more than 9,800 steps did not statistically affect the likelihood of developing cognitive decline.
The work is observational and does not indicate a cause-and-effect relationship. However, it is thought that some mechanisms may help explain the association between staying active and a lower risk of dementia. Hormones produced during exercise, improved brain oxygenation and reduced likelihood of arterial blockage are some of the reasons given by previous studies.
The article published in JAMA highlights the importance of walking intensity for the prevention of dementia. According to researchers, the ideal peak is 112 steps per minute for at least half an hour per day (not necessarily consecutive). This cadence, which can be measured in watches and mobile apps with pedometer function, was associated with a 62% reduction in cognitive decline.
“To our knowledge, there are no studies on the association of daily steps and stride intensity (ie, cadence or steps per minute) with dementia,” the authors wrote. They concluded, “Understanding this relationship is critical to determining the optimal size and severity of steps for dementia prevention.”
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