Study: Walks reduce the risk of dementia - but it's all about speed

Taking enough steps a day can reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and early death.

Study: Walks reduce the risk of dementia - but it's all about speed

Taking enough steps a day can reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and early death. Researchers have now discovered that the number of steps and the number of steps per minute have an impact on the risk of dementia.

A research team led by Borja del Pozo Cruz analyzed data from the medical database "UK Biodatabase" from around 78,500 people aged between 40 and 79 from Scotland, England and Wales. The subjects had to wear a pedometer 24 hours a day for seven days.

After analyzing the steps, the scientists divided the participants into two groups: those who walk less than 40 steps per minute and those who walk more than 40 steps per minute. The researchers also took a closer look at the subjects who took the most steps per minute within 30 minutes over the course of a day. Around seven years later, the researchers looked at the medical records of the subjects. 866 of them were suffering from dementia - they belonged to the group of slow walkers or those who walk very little.

The good news for everyone: You don't have to fixate on the number of steps, because the study shows that speed plays a major role. According to the study, anyone who walks briskly – with 112 steps per minute within 30 minutes – reduces their risk of developing dementia by 62 percent. The 30 minutes don't have to be walked in one go—you can accumulate them over the course of a day.

"Our main finding is that the number of steps per minute is more important than the total number of steps," study author del Pozo Cruz told CNN. The researchers defined an optimal number of steps per day as 9826 steps, which reduces the risk of dementia by 50 percent and, according to the scientists, the minimum number of steps per day is 3800 to reduce the risk of dementia by 25 percent.

This means that a short, brisk walk around the block is more effective in reducing the risk of dementia than a long stroll at a leisurely pace.

Sources: Study Jama Neurology,CNN

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