A study published in the journal Neurology in 2010 indicates that walking one mile a day significantly lowers your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease (dementia)—by about 50%! Not bad for taking a short walk each day. The study found that walking a mile a day increased participants’ gray matter in their brains (but walking more than a mile had no additional beneficial effect). Shrinking gray matter is often associated with older age and with dementia. Participants in the study were ages 70 to 90, and researchers tracked their behavior over a 13-year period.
Walking a mile per day can typically be done in 20-30 minutes, depending on your pace. Walking is a relatively low-impact form of exercise, so it can also be beneficial for joint health and movement; if you suffer from arthritis, walking may be an excellent form of exercise for you to consider. To make your walks more enjoyable, encourage your spouse or a friend to go with you. Or take your dog with you on your walk; the exercise will be good for Rover also. If you want to get in some community service at the same time, maybe volunteer to take a dog from your local humane society on a walk (if they allow you to).
If the weather in your neck of the woods won’t allow you to walk outdoors, you might try walking at a local mall or “big box” retail store. How do you know how far to walk inside a mall or megastore? Once you know your pace for walking a mile (let’s say it takes 20 minutes), then all you need to do is walk 20 minutes at your local mall. To keep your “indoor” walk interesting, vary your route each day. Maybe walk through a couple different malls/big stores to add some variety to your routine.
If you’re not a walker now, today is a good day to start, yes?!? Walking is a very simple way to maximize your retirement readiness.