Alzheimer’s disease is a common health issue during the age of senility. It is the most familiar and common form of dementia and is considered to be an incurable and terminal degenerative disease. Alzheimer’s disease usually starts at 65 but it may happen at an earlier age. Treatment for Alzheimer’s disease is only limited to care-giving, psychosocial, medical and environmental intervention. Despite the disease’s increasing popularity in people in old age, different studies have found different ways of reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Theories on Alzheimer’s Disease

Different conflicting theories argue on the root cause of Alzheimer’s disease. The oldest theory called the cholinergic hypothesis suggests that the disease is caused by the weakened synthesis of acetylcholine in the brain, a neurotransmitter responsible for promoting and maintaining a healthy communication with the sections of the brain. But due to the lack of efficacy exhibited by medications to improve the synthesis of acetylcholine, the theory has not gained and maintained support form the medical schools.

Another theory suggests that Alzheimer’s disease is implied by a specific disorder in the human genome. The well-established observation is that people who have this specific genetic abnormality develop the disease as early as the age of 40.  This gives the theory a stronger standpoint than its older opponent. Medical experts strongly suggest that the development of Alzheimer’s disease can be brought about by a certain genetic trait. But they also add that the person’s overall lifestyle greatly influence its onset. In a study conducted in order to examine the risk and development of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers found that walking can slow down the progression of the disease.

Though there hasn’t been any concrete evidence found in order to support suggested methods to avoid or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, medical experts are consistent on the idea that diet and sufficient mental and physical exercise can strongly influence the progression of the disease. The simple habit of walking was found by a group of researchers from Pennsylvania to slow down cognitive decline in a group of adults with mild conditions of cognitive impairment.

Walking against Alzheimer’s Disease

A study presented at the annual conference of the Radiological Society of North America suggested that walking can slow down cognitive decline in adults experiencing mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease and even in adults with no signs of cognitive impairment. Lead researcher from the University of Pittsburgh Department Of Radiology, Cyrus Raji, said that they had found that walking for a minimum of five miles a week helps protect the brain from damage, especially in areas responsible for learning and memory, for ten years. They also found that it slows down the decline of memory loss for over years.

In the data provided by the National Institute of Aging, around 2 to 5 million Americans suffer from the disease and the numbers are expected to increase in the next years. The fact that Alzheimer’s disease is irreversible and that no cure has been found to make the brain recover from the damage makes it one of the biggest health issues in the world. Minor cognitive impairment (MCI) is a condition wherein in a person experiences serious age-related memory loss but not as grave as that of Alzheimer’s disease. But around 50 percent of MCI cases continue to develop into a full blown Alzheimer’s disease. Raji said that the best way of coping with the problem, since treatment is not yet available, is to find ways to alleviate the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, slow down its progression and help improve the patient’s quality of life.

Study Details

The study will last for 20 years and will examine the relationship between brain health and physical activity. The researchers gathered a group of 127 adults with cognitive impairment and 299 healthy adults. The group with cognitive impairment consists of 44 people with Alzheimer’s disease and 83 with mild cognitive impairment. They monitored how frequent and far the study participants walked in a period of seven days and after 10 years, they underwent MRI examinations to determine and identify the changes in their brain. Researchers looked closely at brain volume since it is directly related to the brain’s health condition; higher brain volume means healthier brain while a decline could mean that brain cells are dying. They were also asked to take an examination to test their cognitive skills for 5 years. The results of the cognitive exams directly corresponded with the MRI results with adjustments made to discharge the influence of variables like education, gender, head size and body fat composition.

The study concluded that increased physical activities results to greater brain volume. Study participants with mild cognitive impairment had to walk at least 5 miles in a weak in order to offset the cognitive decline while healthy participants needed a minimum of six miles per week to reduce the risk of developing cognitive impairment. Raji added that walking is not a cure against Alzheimer’s disease but refers to the activity as an effective means of reducing memory loss associated with ageing and lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The Numerous Health Benefits of Walking

We walk on a daily basis. But despite the inevitability of the need for walking, some people are still not getting enough of the activity. The availability of new technologies that bypasses the necessities for walking like Segways, lifts and other devices that moves people to short distances wherein walking was previously required deprives people of its various health benefits.

Walking is the most natural form of physical activity. The movement of the legs and hands requires enough exertion to promote healthier breathing and blood circulation. More oxygen gets circulated in the blood and to the brain. This helps the body maintain health cognitive and physical function. Walking has also been found to boost the immune system, manage weight, prevent and control disease, prevent osteoporosis and a lot more.

A study showed that it is easier to exercise when it is part of our daily lives. Walking to nearby locations is an effective means of getting enough exercise without getting stressed too much about maintaining the activity. Going to the gym or participating in a certain physical activity may be challenging for some people since these may require too much self-discipline.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

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