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Walking Every Day Will Keep Ageing at Bay

Posted on June 26, 2015 by James

Everyone knows that walking holds many benefits, of which one of the most important is how much of a health boost it can give your body. To reinforce the health benefits walking can bring, a recent study by experts at Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago have shown how much of a positive impact a daily walk can have on your mental, as well as physical, health.

The research, resulting from studies of people with an average age of 80, showed that walking, and keeping mobile in general, has an incredible effect on the brain and can help people guard against developing debilitating conditions like Alzheimer’s.

Dr Debra Fleischman, the Study author explained how, out of those they studied, the people who were more physically active did not experience as much of a drop in their mobility, even when they exhibited small traces of brain damage, when normally such damage to the brain would have a detrimental effect on their movements.

The research showed that those who walked for approximately an hour and a half every day displayed these health gains, even if they walked at below the average speed.

Dr Fleischman explained: “These results underscore the importance of efforts to encourage a more active lifestyle in older people to prevent movement problems, which is a major public health challenge. Physical activity may create a ‘reserve’ that protects motor abilities against the effects of age-related brain damage.”

The Rush University Medical Centre’s study concurs with the research, also recently released, by a group of Finnish and Swedish scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. This study highlights the health advantages of taking walks regularly, as well as eating healthily and keeping your brain as active as possible.

The study assessed 1,260 people, aged between 60-77, and showed that people who performed all three of the recommended activities (walking, eating healthily and keeping their brains active) over a period of two years, performed up to 2.5 times better in mental testing than those who had not followed the recommendations. Some of those tested even performed better in memory tests than they had previously.

Study lead, Professor Miia Kivipelto, recognised that previous research has already shown the clear links between the decline in intellectual ability and diet, health and fitness but stated that their study: “is the first large randomised controlled trial to show an intensive programme aimed at addressing these risk factors might be able to prevent cognitive decline in elderly people who are at risk of dementia.”

Both studies have been well-received by experts across the mental health profession, with Dr Simon Ridley of Alzheimer’s Research UK stating how promising the initial results of the studies are and that now we just have to: “await the findings from the longer follow-up period to see whether this intervention has long-term benefits in reducing the risk of dementia.”

Sometimes there is nothing better than clearing away the cobwebs with a good long walk in the countryside, and if it benefits your mental, as well as physical health, even better!

There are a huge number of beautiful places to explore in the UK, and as such an excellent number of healthy walking opportunities too. So go on, put on your walking boots, grab your partner or a group of your closest friends and head out into the great expanse of the great British countryside and get to walking!

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