Keep moving: 10,000 steps a day may halve dementia risk



Dementia affects more than 55 million people worldwide and is the seventh leading cause of death globally.With the proportion of older people in the population increasing, the number of dementia cases is also on the rise. There is mounting evidence that regular physical exercise not only benefits general health, but is also one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of developing dementia.

In good news for those who struggle to fit exercise into their daily routine, a new study has shown that walking around 4,000 steps a day may reduce dementia risk by 25%.

Upping their daily step count to just under 10,000 could halve a person’s risk of developing dementia. As the global population ages, cases of dementia are also on the rise worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that some 55 millionTrusted Source people currently have dementia, and the number is set to rise to 139 million by 2050.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that Alzheimer’s disease, the commonest form of dementia, affects around 5.8 millionTrusted Source people in the United States alone.

The greatest risk factors for dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Society, are aging and genetics. Dementia is most common in those aged over 75, and having a close relative with dementia may increase a person’s riskTrusted Source of developing the disorder. Other risk factors that we cannot control include sex — females are more at risk than males — and ethnicity. However, lifestyle changes, such as increasing physical exercise, controlling blood pressure, and keeping the brain stimulated, can decrease a person’s risk of dementia, even for those who have one or more risk factors.

Dr. Anton Porsteinsson, professor and director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Care, Research and Education Program (AD-CARE) at the University of Rochester Medical Center, told Medical News Today:

“A broad, healthy approach factoring in lifestyle, diet, exercise, cognitive stimulation, socialization, and sleep all make a difference. Many of them [can be effective] even if started later in life.” And physical exercise need not mean sweating it out at the gym or taking up a new sport. According to a study recently published in JAMA NeurologyTrusted Source, simply increasing the number of steps a person takes each day can decrease their dementia risk by as much as 50%.

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