Small changes make big differences.

Tuesdays with MOJO/Walk to ward off dementia

Marjorie Spitz RentoComment

Ever had a senior moment? You know, you walk into a room to get something and forget what it was. Or you search for a word you’ve said 1,000 times and just can’t retrieve it from your mind?

You likely don’t have the start of dementia or Alzheimer’s, but repetitive occurrences may make you wonder!

I love to walk and was inspired by an article in the New York Times that cities three one-hour walks per week may help prevent dementia. Are you in?

When I busted my knee, all I wanted to do was be able to walk across Central Park pain free.

Physical activity can take many forms, and it doesn’t have to be complicated or of lengthy intensity. Short burst workouts or just taking a walk has many benefits such as maintaining a healthy weight, strengthening bones and muscles, preventing disease, and improving balance, coordination and mood.

Ever been in a crap mood, forced yourself to go for a walk and notice you come back with an attitude adjustment? That’s because your blood gets circulating and oxygenated, and your body releases endorphins (or happy hormones).  Plus, if outside, the fresh air and natural sunlight literally brightens up your day (and provides Vitamin D and melatonin regulation). Wear sunscreen of course!

Given all of that, it totally makes sense that movement will also impact brain function.

The study by The British Journal of Sports Medicine “looked at vascular cognitive impairment, the second most frequent form of dementia worldwide, after the better-known Alzheimer’s disease. The condition arises when someone’s blood vessels become damaged and blood no longer flows well to the brain. It is often associated with high blood pressure and heart disease.”

According to the article, in the early states of vascular dementia, “something as simple and accessible as walking may make a meaningful difference” in how well the brain works.

I was intrigued!

In the comments section, one person said “I have walked between 4.5 and 6 miles a day 4 or 5 days a week for more than 40 years. My sister (2 years older than I) died from Alzheimer's and my brother (4 years older than I) has dementia from various etymologies.” The reader indicated that neither sibling exercised regularly.

A nurse summed it up well: “Even if these types of interventions only slow the disease process, the extra time they create for patients and families can be life changing and are worth at least looking into.” Indeed!

You don’t have to be elderly to reap the benefits, but for those concerned about a fall, try searching YouTube for seated exercise options like this one.

training walk.jpg

With life expectancy increasing world wide, it’s important to consider your quality of cognitive ability in those silver years.

Here in the northeast, summer is right around the corner and the weather improving, so now is the perfect time of year to put on those walking shoes and get out there.

Your body, and your mind will be grateful, especially if you pick up the pace now and then!

Pace-fully Yours,

Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™