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Walking 'tackles dementia'

19th June 2006

Walking could help prevent dementia and stop Alzheimer's, claims a new medical study.

Scientists are suggesting that regular walking may go some way to preventing the onset of mental decline. Two new studies, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, conclude that encouraging good eating habits and a healthy lifestyle could stop the development of dementia.

Researchers focused on the habits of a wide range of elderly people across the world to help assess how exercise can improve long-term brain functions.

One case study involving 2,257 retired men in Hawaii aged between 71 and 93, discovered that those who walked less than a quarter of a mile a day were nearly twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia, compared to men who walked over two miles each day.

Another example involved 16,466 female nurses aged 70 to 81 and concluded that women who enjoyed regular walking performed better on basic mental function tests.

"We were a bit surprised that something so modest as walking would be associated with apparent cognitive benefits," commented study author Jennifer Weuve, a Harvard School of Public Health researcher.