Hit The Road

Posted on: 04 April 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

A new study has found evidence to suggest that regular walking can reduce the risk of dementia in older men.

A new study has found evidence to suggest that regular walking can reduce the risk of dementia in older men.

Older men who walked the least in a comparison group had nearly twice the risk for dementia compared to men who walked the most, according to the results published in the September 22nd issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

According to background information in the article, the evidence suggests that physical activity may be related to the clinical expression of dementia, but whether that association includes low-intensity activity such as walking has yet to be established.

Robert D. Abbott of the University of Virginia School of Medicine and colleagues examined the association between walking and the future risk of dementia in older men. The study included 2,257 physically capable men aged 71 to 93 years in the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study.

The researchers found that after adjusting for age, men who walked the least (less than 0.25 mile/day) experienced a 1.8-fold excess risk of dementia compared with those who walked more than 2 miles each day. Men who walked 0.25 to 1 mile a day experienced a 71 percent increased risk of dementia compared to men who walked more than 2 miles each day. These associations persisted after accounting for other factors, including the possibility that limited amounts of walking could be the result of a decline in physical function due to preclinical dementia.

The authors admit that there are no clear explanations for the relation between walking and dementia. "Although complex, this study and past evidence suggest that walking and active lifestyles in general are associated with a reduced risk of dementia," the researchers concluded.

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