seniors strolling by the marsh

The #1 fear of seniors is memory loss, or more specifically, dementia.  According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, dementia affects more than 5 million people in this country. That number is expected to double by 2050 and women are at higher risk of developing dementia than men. but recently there has been some very good news. 

study in The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association found women, aged 65 or older, were less likely to develop dementia if they did more daily walking and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. The researchers sampled data from over 1,000 women.  The average participant had 3,216 steps a day in a combination of 276 minutes of light physical activities and 46 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. 

Researchers found that an additional 1,865 daily steps a day reduced the risk of mild cognitive impairment by 33 percent.  They also determined that an additional 31 minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was associated with a 21 percent reduction.  These are staggering numbers for relatively little extra effort. 

According to Steven Nguyen at the University of California San Diego’s School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science, who conducted the study, “The findings for steps per day are particularly noteworthy because steps are recorded by a variety of wearable devices.” Senior author Andrea LaCroix, Ph.D., M.P.H., added “Given that the onset of dementia begins 20 years or more before symptoms show, early intervention (to delay or prevent cognitive decline and dementia among older adults) is essential.”

Fortunately, here in Mill Valley we have a lot of walking paths, hiking trails and new sidewalks.  The additional 1,865 extra steps to reduce your risk equates to a little less than one mile. To achieve the goal you could walk from: the Community Center to Boyle Park, the Tam High Pool to the far end of track and back, the Depot to the Library and back, or the Safeway on Redwood Highway to the In-N-Out Burger and back. 

You get the point.  Adding a relatively short walk can significantly reduce your risk of cognitive impairment and there are a lot of easy ways to achieve the number of steps needed.  So please – get up, go for a walk, and take care of #1 today!

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