(Natural News) In 2015, at least 47 million people worldwide had dementia, a memory problem that often greatly affects an individual’s ability to accomplish daily tasks. While the most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, other forms exist as well.
Unlike other diseases that can be treated, there is no cure for dementia. However, learning about its risk factors is one way to prevent it.
According to a study, older adults who have slower walking speeds could have a higher risk of developing dementia than those with faster walking speeds.
A team of researchers from the U.K. analyzed the relationship among changes in walking speed, changes in the ability to think and make decisions, and dementia. The results of the study were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
For the study, the researchers reviewed data from the “English Longitudinal Study of Aging” which contained information from adults aged 60 and older who lived in England.
The researchers relied on information gathered from 2002 to 2015 and they assessed participants’ walking speed on two occasions: From 2002 to 2003; and in 2004 to 2005. The participants were observed once again to determine whether or not they developed dementia following the tests from 2006 to 2015. The researchers then compared the patients who had developed dementia with those who had not. (Related: Go for a brisk walk every day to protect your brain.)
The researchers found out that out of the almost 4,000 older adults they observed, the ones with a slower walking speed had a higher chance of developing dementia. Additionally, individuals who experienced a faster decrease in walking speed in a two-year period were also at greater risk for dementia.
Those who had a poorer ability to think and make decisions when they participated in the study, along with those whose cognitive or thinking abilities deteriorated more quickly during the study, were also at risk of developing dementia.
The researchers concluded that older individuals with slower walking speeds, in addition to those who gradually experienced a greater decline in their walking speed, were at increased risk of dementia.
However, the researchers also acknowledged that these “changes in walking speed and changes in an older adult’s ability to think and make decisions do not necessarily work together to affect the risk of developing dementia.”
The benefits of walking
Aside from helping you stay in shape, here are the other benefits of walking for people with dementia:
- It can give you a chance to interact with others, which can reduce the feeling of isolation.
- It can help keep your bones strong and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, a disease that makes bones weaker and more likely to break.
- It can help reduce the risk of some types of cancer (such as breast and colon cancer), stroke, and Type 2 diabetes.
- It can help you sleep better.
- It can improve your ability to clean, cook, dress, and perform other daily tasks, which can be easier if you are in better shape.
- It can improve your cognition. Some studies have shown that regular exercise can boost memory and slow down mental decline.
- It can improve your physical fitness. Maintaining strong muscles and flexible joints can help you maintain your independence for longer.
- It can make your heart and blood vessels stronger. In turn, this can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
- It can reduce the risk of accidental falls by improving your strength and balance.
You can read more articles about how to prevent dementia, and other cognitive problems, at Alzheimers.news.