The Wonders of Walking

Two Women WalkingWalking is such a wonderful way to exercise, and now a study has confirmed another of its wonders: walking is good for our brain.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburg found that walking as little as 1 mile a day appears to maintain brain volume and reduces the risk of developing cognitive impairment.

Two hundred and ninety-nine dementia-free men and women with a mean age of 78 were assessed for physical activity. Then 9 years later their brain size was measured with MRI studies. Four years later they were given tests for cognitive impairment and dementia. (Now that’s what’s called an elegant study).

Participants who walked for at least 6-9 miles a week (about 72 blocks) per week had more gray matter than those who walked less. Walking more than 6-9 miles did not appear to increase gray matter volume further. Those with more gray matter associated with exercise had a 2-fold lessened risk for cognitive impairment and dementia.  The results of the study were reported in the October 13, 2010 issue of Neurology.

Wow! No gym, no special equipment, no training, available for a wide range of fitness levels, easy and relaxing, and one mile a day: the wonders of walking.

Portland has dozens of walking neighborhoods, including the NE Portland Irvington neighborhood near our office. Now we know we’ll not only be exercising our joints and increasing our lung and heart capacity—we’ll be exercising our most essential organ, the brain!

Source: Neurology 2010;75:1415-1422

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