Does walking boost brain health? Step count and speed are key!

▎WuXi Adapt Content Team Editor

Walking, is something we do every day. Walking on the way to and from get off work, taking a walk after dinner, and walking around while doing housework at home.

A growing body of research has found that walking, a small daily activity, is inextricably linked to health. Walking speed usually reflects the physical decline of the elderly; steps walked per day is also associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and other diseases and death.

A recent study published in JAMA Neurology adds new evidence for the health benefits of walking more. Studies show that steps and speed of walking also have an impact on brain health and are associated with a 25%-62% lower risk of dementia.

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Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark and other institutions analysed data from the UK biobank, including 78,430 individuals Participants aged 40-79. The mean age of the participants was 61.1 years, and 55.3% (43,390) were female.

Through a questionnaire, the researchers collected basic information about the participants’ age, gender, height, weight, race, etc.; smoking status, alcohol consumption, diet, etc.< strong>Lifestyle information; family history of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and dementia; and health-related indicator levels blood pressure, blood lipids, and blood sugar were measured. /strong>.

In addition, all participants wore accelerometers for 7 consecutive days, in addition to sleep time, to collect number of steps walked per day, speed, and walking maximum Fast 30 minutes (not necessarily continuous) speed, that is, 30 minutes high walking speed.

Based on how fast they walked every day, researchers divided participants’ daily steps into 2 categories: incidental steps (<40 steps/min) and purposeful steps (speed ≥ 40 steps/min, such as running).

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Statistics show that all participants walked an average of 8041 steps per day, including 3418 steps by chance; >4623 steps. The 30-minute high walking speed averaged 84.4 steps/min. Participants who walked more steps per day were mostly young and female, and they had healthier lifestyles, such as less alcohol, smoking, and higher consumption of vegetables and fruits.

A total of 866 participants developed dementia during an average follow-up period of up to 7 years.

After controlling for other factors, researchers found that walking more and walking faster each day was associated with a lower risk of dementia.

Walking 3826 steps per day was associated with a 25% reduction in dementia risk; As the number of steps increased, the risk of dementia gradually decreased, with the greatest reduction in the risk of 51% when the number of steps reached 9826 steps. When over 9826 steps, there was no further reduction in dementia risk.

The greatest reduction in dementia risk was 42% when 3677 occasional steps per day were taken.

The greatest reduction in dementia risk was 57% at 6315 purposeful steps per day.

A 30-minute high walking speed of 112 steps/min had the most significant reduction in dementia risk, 62%.

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The simple exercise of walking may promote brain health through a variety of mechanisms, according to researchers. For example, exercise can prevent the loss of brain volume and help preserve memory by shrinking specific brain regions associated with memory; help blood vessels in the brain; and >Reduce the level of inflammation and so on. However, the relevant mechanism is not yet clear, and more research is needed to explore.

Because this study is observational, it shows an association between walking more, briskly, and dementia risk, not cause and effect. There are also some limitations in the study, such as some data relying on participant recall, which may also affect the results of the study.

Studies conclude that Dementia is increasingly the most common cause of disability in older adults. The incidence is expected to double over the next 20 years. Therefore, preventing the occurrence of dementia is crucial to the healthy life of the elderly.

Modifiable risk factors for dementia, such as physical activity, obesity, diet and social activity, are receiving increasing attention. Findings from this study suggest that walking, a simple, easily detectable, and readily available form of exercise, may be one of the ideal options for preventing dementia.

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Corresponding study author Dr. Borja del Pozo Cruz from the University of Southern Denmark said: “For many people, it can be difficult to determine how much, how long, and whether they are meeting physical activity guidelines. (i.e. 150-300 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week.) The findings of this study prompt us to count our daily steps and gradually increase the number and speed of steps per day, may have beneficial effects on brain health and reduce dementia risk.”

The American Heart Association (AHA) states that walking is one of the safe and easy ways to improve your health. It should be noted that Although walking is very common and common, you also need to increase the number of steps slowly according to your physical condition, not to achieve a certain number of steps , and as soon as you get up, you walk for a long time and long distances.

In life, we can consider gradual improvements, additions, and incorporating more walking into our lifestyle and schedule, such as Park the car further away from the mall, take the stairs instead of the elevator, etc. Otherwise, Once the body load is exceeded, not only will it not promote health, but on the contrary, it will easily cause harm to the body.

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[1] Borja del Pozo Cruz, et al., (2022). Association of Daily Step Count and Intensity With Incident Dementia in 78 430 Adults Living in the UK. JAMA Neurology, DOI: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2022.2672.

[2] Dementia Risk Tied to Daily Step Count— Incident dementia dropped by 25% with as little as 3,800 steps per day, study found. Retrieved Sep 30 ,2022, from https:https: //

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