Dementia may not have a cure yet, but experts have found a way to hold off its effects on the human brain. A study suggested that moderate-intensity walking or "brisk walking" may do wonders for the brain's health.
According to a study conducted by the University of British Columbia and published at the British Journal of Sports Medicine, a steady pace in brisk walking reduces the effects of brain deterioration linked to poor blood vessel health, Reuters reported.
The study observed 38 people with vascular cognitive impairment (VCI) or vascular dementia. The participants were divided into two groups, with one group consisting of people with VCI who walked at least three hours per week for six months straight. The other group was composed of people who received their usual care for VCI.
At the end of the study, those who did the moderate exercise showed significant improvement in their brain's health and function while the other group had no improvements.
According to the Mayo Clinic, vascular dementia pertains to a person's difficulty in reasoning, making judgment, and other thought process caused by poor blood flow to the brain, which gets damaged as a result.
While a stroke does not necessarily lead to vascular dementia, a person may still develop it after suffering from a stroke.
The research's senior author Teresa Liu-Ambrose of the Aging, Mobility and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab of the university said in an email that consistent "aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular health and cerebrovascular health."
That is why regular brisk walking, an aerobic type of exercise, can benefit people who engage in it.
"More specifically, it reduces one's risk of developing chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes (type II), and high cholesterol," said Ambrose.
The researcher explained that the diseases mentioned "have a negative impact on the brain – likely through compromised blood flow to the brain."
It is essential that the brain receives good blood flow that brings oxygen and nutrients needed for its function.
However, because the number of people the group observed is relatively small, a doctor from the Montefiore Medical Center in New York expressed caution for people to exercise wisdom in analyzing the results.
"Given the small sample size, one needs to be cautious about interpreting the results of this pilot study," said Dr. Joe Verghese of the Montefiore Einstein Center for the Aging Brain. "However, it is encouraging to see that the six-month aerobic exercise program improved certain aspects of cognition and showed changes on functional brain imaging."
He added that should the study be replicated in a larger scope, it can prove significant and "may have implications in advising exercise in older patients with vascular risk factors for brain protection."
According to a study conducted by the University of British Columbia and published at the British Journal of Sports Medicine, a steady pace in brisk walking reduces the effects of brain deterioration linked to poor blood vessel health.