New research shows that short regular walks help to prevent dementia

  • EuropeActive, physical activity, dementia

A new study, published by researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine, shows that incremental light intensity physical activity, such as short, regular walks, is associated with higher brain volume. The researchers worked with a sample of 2354 participants of which almost half met the physical activity guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week.

 The findings show that each additional hour of light-intensity PA was associated with approximately 1.1 years less brain aging. Achieving 10 000 or more steps per day was associated with higher brain volume compared with those achieving fewer than 5000 steps per day. These results indicate that Incremental physical activity, even at a more practical light intensity, may be involved in the maintenance of brain structures into older age, helping to prevent dementia. However, more research is needed to find and the specific activity levels optimal for dementia prevention.

This research paper contributes to growing body of evidence that physical activity helps preventing mental health issues. EuropeActive works everyday to get more people more active more often, including older people. A very concrete example of EuropeActive’s efforts is the PAHA project, an EU funded action which was completed in 2016 and has been labelled a good practice and a success story by the European Commission. During the project over 650 older, inactive Europeans took part in a 6-week structured exercise programme to increase their activity levels in a durable way. The PAHA project found that a six-week exercise programme can increase long-term physical activity in older Europeans.