How to walk away from Alzheimer’s disease

running woman

10,000 steps.

That is the magic number of steps we should walk every day to improve our physical health and wellbeing.

I love to walk at the beach, and one of my favourite walks to do is from Queenscliff to Shelly Beach along Manly Beach seafront  – I calculated this to be about 6,500 steps!

Walking.  Simply putting one foot in front of another.  It is something that most of us do without thinking, and it is one of the easiest and best forms of exercise there is (you don’t need an app for it either!!).

Walking delays the onset of Alzheimer’s disease

So far neuroscientists have not found anything to prevent the brain pathology that develops during Alzheimer’s disease.  BUT neuroscience shows that we can take steps (literally!!) to SLOW the disease’s development.

A couple of years ago, the Ontario Brain Institute in Canada published a paper – The Role of Physical Activity in the Prevention and Management of Alzheimer’s Disease.  The paper analysed over 900 research papers examining the relationship between physical activity and Alzheimer’s.

They found that for older adults without Alzheimer’s disease, those who exercised were almost 40% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than the couch potatoes.

In other words, it was calculated that more than 1 in 7 cases of Alzheimer’s disease could be prevented if everyone who is currently inactive took up exercise. 

I don’t know about you, but I’d like to be that one person!

Dr Donald Stuss, the President and Scientific Director of the Ontario Brain Institute, sums up the main findings of the report:

I am happy to tell you that this is the strongest evidence to date that physical activity makes a significant difference to the management and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Another scientist on the team, Dr Laura Middleton from the University of Waterloo, who has done extensive research on dementia and exercise, says:

The findings of this report suggested that people who are the most physically active have a lower chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease

So, what do these scientists mean by being ‘physically active’?

  • 30 minutes exercise every day
  • equivalent to brisk walking
  • enough to get your heart-rate up.

How does exercise impact the brain?

  • Decreases your risk of vascular disease. If you develop vascular disease, this increases the risk and severity of cognitive decline and dementia.
  • Lower levels of inflammatory markers in your blood — inflammation leads to an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
  • Stimulates neurogenesis – the birth of new brain cells.

The take-home message here is simple:

Walk 30 minutes or 10,000 steps daily to promote better brain health and reduce your risk of developing dementia.

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  1. Theodoor de Bie on April 5, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    What to do if the MRI of a person shows the first signs of dementia?
    Does more exercise still help?
    What about a diet to loose weight and replace high blood pressure tablets?

    • Sarah McKay on April 8, 2016 at 11:21 pm

      There is no cure for dementia. Sadly, most of what we know is mere ‘risk reduction’.

  2. Debbie L Hampton on April 5, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    Great article. I’ve never seen the physical activity component spelled out so clearly. Good to know . I do power hot yoga about 4 times a week. It is vigorous fast moving, physically challenging flow yoga in 100 degrees. On the days I don’t do a yoga class, I do get cardio exercise. I walk the dog every day, but on the days I practice yoga, not briskly (he’s elderly). Do you think the yoga counts in this way? I know yoga has it’s own brain benefits, but I mean in this capacity.

    • Sarah McKay on April 8, 2016 at 11:21 pm

      So long as its exercise YOU love Debbie!

  3. Dermot on May 5, 2016 at 2:00 am

    I’m going to have to disagree with you, I’m afraid. I’ve found that I must definitely DO need an app 🙂

    I’ve broken or lost more pedometers than I care to remember, so far I haven’t messed up my phone!

  4. Gill on May 25, 2016 at 4:51 am

    Thirty minutes or 10,000 steps? Someone’s a fast walker. Ten thousand steps takes me at least 70 minutes, and that’s at my absolute fastest walking speed.

    • Sarah McKay on May 26, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      Whatever you enjoy more! It’s a loose guideline, not a rule 🙂

  5. Chealen Williams Charles on June 11, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Please there is a cure for dementia and no one knows. This is my husband’s story… My husband was a retired force man, he had partial stroke 5 years ago, and then i was still working. His condition got worse and he was hospitalized. After some time of treatment he began to behave abnormal, like someone who has lost memory of event and occurrence. i shared tears the very day i walked to him in the hospital and he could not even recognize me. This is am man that is very playful and highly romantic. Each day i hold him to myself and share tears the more. He was not able to do anything just look at me like a bull dog and do so many abnormal things. Later on doctor brought a recent report and he was diagnosed of dementia this doctor says have no cure that he would die a brainless man. Oh my God i fainted when i heard this. I raised my voice and cry to God to help me from this. So i began to hope and trust God to do miracle. My pastor was a great pillar of encouragement to me. i did all i can to get a cure for him, but none worked out, i spent thousands of USD trying to get a cure for him. But behold a friends doctor came visiting and said to me let’s look if herbal remedy can help him get any better so he gave me your website which is www. there i saw how people testified of the good works of herbs in their life, so i decided to contact the doctor because his contact details was on his website.. The first time i emailed him, i got no reply from him, so i decided to call him on the phone. I called him, and told him what he could do was to laugh and said to me that anything the enemy have planned against my husband must fail, he said to me that he have cured CJD and this is similar to what my husband have. After all, he prepared herbs and sent to me, i have to force my husband to take it because before then he was not taking anything from me to eat anymore. but behold sir it was just like a magic gradually my husband begin to get better, better and today sir i am proud to say my husband is totally cured, He you cured my husband of this deadly dementia disease and now i keep my promise i made to him before the cure that i will let the entire world know about his herbs if my husband is cured. Sir, now i am overwhelmed. God bless you sir. My husband has the plans to travel to see the doctor facially and say a physical thanks to him in his country, and i will accompany him down to his home in his country to also show my gratitude him. God bless him in abundant. If you have same problem or have other health issues and want to contact Doctor Isimhenmhen Anthony, here is his website (

  6. Allan Meyer on July 4, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Many Thanks for your interesting correspondence.

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