Step count is a popular approach to providing physical activity targets for the general public. An optimal dose of 8000 to 10,000 steps daily has been suggested to reduce the risk of all-cause mortality. A higher step count may lower the risk of cardiovascular and cancer mortality and the incidence of diabetes, particularly more intense steps. Step-based physical activity targets are easy to grasp and may be ideal for dementia-prevention guidelines.

Today, Annabel and the teams at Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne, EdgecliffMarrickvilleBella VistaRandwickPymbleBalmainNeutral Bay, Coburg – Melbourne, and Barrie, Ontario – Canada talk about the link between dementia and walking and how you can improve your cognitive health through exercise.

The number and proportion of older aged people are increasing, with the fastest growing age group being people aged 80 years or older. By 2050, this age group will comprise of 20% of the older population, having increased threefold. Gait speed deteriorates with age, and a slower gait speed is associated with numerous negative health consequences, e.g., increased dependence in activities of daily living (ADL), falls, dementia, and mortality. A study found a relationship between speed and walking patterns and a decline in memory. The research also states that older people with better cognition tend to walk faster.

“A slower gait speed is associated with numerous negative health consequences.”

 

Understanding this association is critical to determining the optimal dose of stepping volume and intensity for dementia prevention. People between the ages of 40 and 79 who took 9,826 steps per day were 50% less likely to develop dementia within seven years, the study found.

Furthermore, people who walked with “purpose” – at a pace over 40 steps a minute – were able to cut their risk of dementia by 57% with just 6,315 steps a day. A study suggests taking an individualized approach, finding out how many steps a day a person is walking now, and then working gradually toward the popular recommended target of 10,000 steps, if possible, by aiming to add 1,000 extra steps a day every two weeks.

 

“People between the ages of 40 and 79 who took 9,826 steps per day were 50% less likely to develop dementia within seven years.”

 

Gait is a complex task dependent on the interplay between multiple systems including cognition. Previous studies have found a positive association between gait and cognition with a slower gait speed associated with a decline in cognitive function. A walking speed of about 1 metre per second was linked with a decline in memory and variability of walking patterns is thought to be associated with a decline in memory. In addition, the occurrence of multimorbidity (having at least two chronic diseases) increases with age.

 

If you want to learn how walking can help improve your cognition or increase your walking endurance & strength, give Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne, EdgecliffMarrickvilleBella VistaRandwickPymbleBalmainNeutral Bay, Coburg – Melbourne, and Barrie, Ontario – Canada a call on 1300 964 002 today!

 

Written by Annabel Bergman

References:

Anon, 2021. Join our 10,000 step challenge to help those with dementia. British Gymnastics Foundation. Available at: https://britishgymnasticsfoundation.org/join-10000-step-challenge-help-dementia/ [Accessed September 8, 2022].

Hewett, R., 2019. How fast do you walk? researchers say it could indicate whether you’ll develop dementia. ABC News. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-29/dementia-study-finds-link-with-walking-style/11645544 [Accessed September 8, 2022].

Öhlin, J. et al., 2020. The association between Cognition and Gait in a representative sample of very old people – the influence of dementia and walking aid use. BMC Geriatrics, 20(1).