New research shows a key link between walking and dementia, and reveals that a certain kind of walking is the best way to stay healthy as you age. Turns out it’s not so much how far you go, as why you walk there in the first place.
Ohio State researchers studied the walking Patterson of 125,000 adults and discovered those who walked to work or to the store reported better health than people who walked for fun or relaxation. And, those who walked with a purpose got to their destination faster. How much faster? Health adults went 2.7 miles an hour as they made their way to work or the store, compared to 2.5 miles an hour for those walking to the coffee shop, or out for an after dinner stroll. That little, 10 minute jaunt to the office or the store really pays off and doctors hope their findings might remind urban planners to put in better sidewalks.
Meantime, a team from Newcastle University reveals that people with Lewy body dementia walk in a unique pattern that might enable doctors to better diagnose their condition, so they don’t get lumped in with other Alzheimer’s patients. Findings come from studying 110 people with Lewy body who moved their feet in asymmetrical patterns distinct from other Alzheimer’s patients. Ultimately, the British team hopes to use the walking patterns to enable doctors to screen patients and give better treatment to those with Lewy body dementia, the second most common type of Alzheimer’s. It’s marked by hallucinations, Parkinson-like tremors and muscle rigidity, and patients often fall repeatedly.