- Scientists in Italy tracked 30 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s
- They found that Nordic walkers had better attention spans and processing speeds.
- Around 900,000 Britons suffer from dementia and the number is expected to rise to 1.6 million by 2040.
Practicing Nordic walking twice a week could slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, a study shows.
The fitness trend has become increasingly popular in recent years among those who want to stay active in old age and protect themselves from heart disease.
Several studies have found that it is better than other forms of activity at preventing cardiac deterioration because it vigorously exercises both the upper and lower body.
Now, a team of scientists from the University of Molise in Italy has discovered that it can also keep dementia at bay in patients who are in the early stages of the disease.
Around 900,000 people in the UK have dementia and the number is expected to rise to 1.6 million by 2040, in line with the aging population.
Several studies have found that Nordic walking is better than other forms of activity at preventing cardiac deterioration because it vigorously exercises both the upper and lower body. Now, a team of scientists from the University of Molise in Italy has discovered that it can also keep dementia at bay in patients who are in the early stages of the disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. The disease can cause anxiety, confusion and short-term memory loss. Around 900,000 people in the UK have dementia and the number is expected to rise to 1.6 million by 2040, in line with the aging population.
The Alzheimer’s Society says that, on average, someone is diagnosed every three minutes in the UK.
There is no cure, but new medications are emerging that can help at least slow its progress.
Nordic walking involves using poles to help propel yourself forward during brisk walking, providing a more complete workout than conventional walking.
Studies show that it exercises 80 to 90 percent of all the muscles in the body, compared to only 40 percent when walking or running.
A 2022 study found that Nordic walking was better than all other types of activity at improving the health of heart failure patients.
The latest study, published in the scientific journal Heliyon, suggests that people recently diagnosed with dementia could also benefit.
Scientists got 30 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s to undergo a variety of treatments that could address their symptoms.
These included physiotherapy sessions, to improve physical well-being, and music therapy, where singing or listening to favorite songs is believed to combat memory decline.
Half of the group also did Nordic walking twice a week for six months.
The results showed that the walkers obtained higher scores in terms of memory, attention span and brain processing speed.
They also performed better on visuospatial reasoning tests, such as being able to do mental calculations or tie their shoelaces.
In a report on the results, the researchers said: “If these results are confirmed by larger studies, then Nordic walking may be a safe and useful strategy to slow cognitive decline in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.”
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative brain disease in which the accumulation of abnormal proteins causes the death of nerve cells.
This disrupts the transmitters that carry messages and causes the brain to shrink.
More than 5 million people suffer from the disease in the United States, where it is the sixth leading cause of death, and more than 1 million Britons suffer from it.
As brain cells die, the functions they perform are lost.
That includes memory, orientation, and the ability to think and reason.
The progress of the disease is slow and gradual.
On average, patients live five to seven years after diagnosis, but some can live ten to 15 years.
- Short-term memory loss.
- Behavior changes
- Humor changes
- Difficulty handling money or making a phone call.
- Severe memory loss, forgetting close relatives, familiar objects or places.
- Feeling anxious and frustrated about the inability to make sense of the world, leading to aggressive behavior.
- Over time he loses the ability to walk.
- You may have problems eating
- Most will eventually need 24-hour care
Fountain: Alzheimer’s Association