(NaturalNews) One of the greatest fears associated with growing older is the thought of memory problems -- including the mind-robbing nightmare of Alzheimer's Disease. But there appears to be a natural way to help protect yourself from dementia that involves nothing more complicated that putting on your walking shoes and sticking to a walking program. New research just published in the October 13, 2010, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, strongly indicates that walking just six miles per week may protect aging brains from growing smaller and, in turn, preserve memory in old age.
"Brain size shrinks in late adulthood, which can cause memory problems. Our results should encourage well-designed trials of physical exercise in older adults as a promising approach for preventing dementia and Alzheimer's disease," study author Kirk I. Erickson, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, said in a statement to the media.
For the study, the research team had 299 dementia-free volunteers record the number of blocks they walked each week. After nine years passed, the scientists measured the research participants' brain size with brain scans. Then, four years later, the participants were tested to see if they had developed cognitive deficits or other signs of dementia.
The results? At the nine year checkpoint, those people who walked at least 72 blocks per week (about the equivalent of six to nine miles) had greater gray matter volume than the study participants who didn't walk as much. Walking more than 72 blocks did not seem to increase the volume of gray matter any further. When examined again four years later, 116 of the participants, or 40 percent, had developed some cognitive impairment or dementia. But the researchers discovered those research subjects who walked the most had cut their risk of developing memory problems by 50 percent.
"If regular exercise in midlife could improve brain health and improve thinking and memory in later life, it would be one more reason to make regular exercise in people of all ages a public health imperative," Dr. Erickson stated.
As NaturalNews previously reported, this isn't the first time simply going for regular walks for exercise has been associated with a dramatic decrease in the risk of serious disease. Last spring, a Harvard study found that women who walked regularly at a brisk pace had a 37 percent lower risk of any type of stroke. What's more, going for regular brisk walks cut the women's risk of a hemorrhagic, or bleeding stroke, by an amazing 68 percent (http://www.naturalnews.com/028656_strokes_wa...).