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Walking 8,900 steps a day could lower risk of Alzheimer’s, researchers claim

Sabrina Barr

Walking just under 9,000 steps a day could help protect the brain from Alzheimer's disease, researchers have claimed.

In a new study published in journal JAMA Neurology, a team of scientists assessed how physical activity affects neurodegeneration in older adults.

The researchers carried out their study with 182 participants, whose average age was just over 73 years old.

The cohort included individuals with elevated b-amyloid – a protein which is associated with Alzheimer's disease – who were perceived to be at greater risk of experiencing cognitive decline.

The participants were made to wear pedometers on their hips, which counted the number of steps they took on a daily basis.

The data for the investigation was accumulated by the Harvard Ageing Brain Study at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, USA over the course of eight years, from April 2010 until June 2018.

According to the study's findings, increased physical activity led to a reduced degree of cognitive decline.

Furthermore, the researchers concluded that walking 8,900 steps a day could be directly linked to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia in the UK.

"Beneficial effects were seen at even modest levels of physical activity, but were most prominent at around 8,900 steps, which is only slightly less than the 10,000 many of us strive to achieve daily," Reisa Sperling, director of the Centre for Alzheimer's Research and Treatment and co-author of the study, told Press Association.

Jasmeer Chhatwal, from the Department of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and corresponding author of the study, further emphasised the significance of the study's findings.

"One of the most striking findings from our study was that greater physical activity not only appeared to have positive effects on slowing cognitive decline, but also on slowing the rate of brain tissue loss over time in normal people who had high levels of amyloid plaque in the brain," the scientist said.

Approximately 850,000 people in the UK have dementia, Alzheimer's Society states.

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease or any other form of dementia.

Signs of Alzheimer's disease can include disorientation, difficulty making decisions, speech issues, notable changes in personality and delusions, the NHS outlines.

For more information about Alzheimer's disease, call the Alzheimer's Society National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122.