London: Want to stave off dementia? Walk just 9.5 kms every week, for a new study says that it can help keep your brain sharper as you get older.
Researchers at University of Pittsburgh have carried out the study and found that walking may protect ageing brains from growing smaller and, in turn, preserve memory in old age, `The Independent` reported.
"Brain size shrinks in late adulthood, which can cause memory problems. Our results should encourage well-designed trials of physical exercise in older adults as a promising approach for preventing dementia and Alzheimer`s disease," lead author Kirk Erickson said.
For the study, the researchers asked 299 dementia-free seniors to record the number of blocks they walked each week. After nine years passed, scientists scanned the participants` brains to measure size. Four years later, the participants were tested to see if they had developed signs of dementia.
At the nine-year checkpoint, those people who walked at least 72 blocks per week, around 9.5 kilometres, had more gray matter volume than those who didn`t walk as much.
Four years later, the researchers discovered subjects who walked the most had cut their risk of developing memory problems by 50 per cent.
This is not the first study to promote the benefits of walking in seniors. Last year, a team at Harvard University found that women who walked regularly at a brisk pace had an almost 40 per cent lower risk of stroke.