Health: Walking to reduce the risk of dementia

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A survey by the Alzheimer’s Society has shown that as many as 80 per cent of people in our region are not doing the amount of average weekly exercise recommended by NHS guidelines.

This is despite evidence that taking part in regular exercise can reduce a person’s risk of developing dementia.

The society which provides a range of services to support people living with dementia, released its findings to mark the start of Memory Walks on Saturday.

Research shows that taking regular exercise is one of the best things that can be done to reduce the risk of getting dementia, yet 64 per cent of people surveyed in the region didn’t know that regular exercise and physical activity could reduce the risk of people developing the life-changing condition,

NHS guidelines advise that adults should take part in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as brisk walking every week, but this survey shows that only 17 per cent of people are following these guidelines, while 14 per cent don’t participate in any exercise at all during an average week.

Current evidence suggests that an increase in physical activity, along with increasing cognitive activity, eating a healthy diet, not smoking and management of diseases such as diabetes, have the potential to reduce the risk of dementia. These findings have been reported in several studies including a recent review of dementia risk factors published in the Alzheimer’s & Dementia Journal, as well as the World Alzheimer’s Report 2014.

Actress Adele Silva will be taking part in Alzheimer’s Society’s first Memory Walk in Leeds this Saturday. She said: “I’ve experienced first-hand the devastating effect dementia has on families, and it saddens me to think people aren’t aware of simple things they can do to reduce their risk of developing this terrible condition.

“Evidence has shown that taking regular exercise, eating a healthy balanced diet and not smoking can help prevent dementia and can also help people already living with the condition.

“This Saturday, I’ll be taking part in Alzheimer’s Society’s Leeds Memory Walk and I’ll be walking for my wonderful Nan, who had dementia, along with thousands of people walking for their loved ones. It’s a great way to raise vital funds to support others living with the condition.”

Dr Clare Walton, Research Manager at Alzheimer’s Society said: “The results of Alzheimer’s Society’s survey are concerning, showing a lack of awareness among the general public of the benefits of exercise. What’s good for the heart is good for the head and regular exercise is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of developing dementia, yet many people questioned didn’t know that.”


Leeds : Sept 5 in Roundhay Park from 10am

Wakefield: Sept 6, Pugneys Country Park from 10am

Humber Bridge: Sept 12 from 10am

Kirklees: September 12 Greenhead Park from 

Bradford Memory Walk: Sept 27, Lister Park from 10am

Sheffield : Oct 3 in Rother Valley Country Park from 10am

To join a Memory Walk go to www.memorywalk.org.uk

For more information about Alzheimer’s Society visit www.alzheimers.org.uk