Just moderate amounts of hiking actually sustains our mental abilities.
This is not just anecdotal opinions of health advocates.
It is results of dozens of studies conducted over the past few decades, involving thousands of geezer participants.
Rush University’s Jennifer Weuve reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association on 19,000 nurses in their 70s she studied.
Those who walked about six hours a week had twenty percent better cognitive ability than those who didn’t.
Similar studies indicated that just hiking five miles a week — barely twenty minutes a day — diminished the risks of Alzheimer’s.
A journal of Neurology article concluded that those who walked the most cut their risk of memory problems by half of what those who didn’t.
And another study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine, that of 6,000 women 65 and older those who walked the most were less likely to develop cognitive decline than those who didn’t.
As Brown University’s Medical School Peter Snyder told National Public Radio,
“What we’re finding is that of all noninvasive ways of intervening, it was exercise that seemed the most effective — more so than nutritional supplements, vitamins and cognitive interventions. The literature on exercise is just tremendous.”
Better Memory, Better Thinking!
Another ten-year study in 2010 of people with Alzheimer’s disease showed that even a moderate amount of walking helped stave off further deterioration of mental capacity compared to those who were more sedentary.
Notice that none of these studies showed that in order to achieve these results we did not have to hike as much as has been so often recommended.
One American Heart Association suggestion is to take 10,000 steps a day.
Eeee-golly! That’s five miles a day! Every day.
I know how difficult that is.
I have been hiking daily for years and have recently been adding up my score. If I get in fourteen trail miles a week, I am satisfied with my tallies.
Another advocate urges us to alternate walking at a moderate pace with stints at four-mile-an-hour. That may be perfect for a thirty year old, six-foot four hiker.
But for years, I’ve never even tried to hike at more than two-and-a-half miles per hour for very long.
It is critical that I check my heart rate. And if I were to push myself up to the four miles an hour for long, I’d drop dead of a heart attack.
But, maybe that’s just my age. Even though I am pushing ninety, I can still climb some decent peaks and cover six to ten miles most days.
All of the studies mentioned above say the distance needed for good brain power is no more than six miles a week!
Oh yes, some of the studies said it made no difference in your brain power if you did hike more than the five or six miles a week.
Anyway, this is just one more benefit of the hiking we do.
We hardly knew that having so much fun could have so much benefit, did we!
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