We should ALL be walking, even people with dementia

norman doidgeLast night I had the great pleasure and privilege of listening to Norman Doidge talk about his latest book, The Brain’s Way of Healing at the beautiful Adelaide Town Hall.

I was especially interested in his scientific rationale for the value of walking, and yes, surprise surprise, even people with dementia should be walking.

Norman discussed five things we can all do to delay neurodegenerative decline, although they do have a few side effects, but things that we can do for that are being supported with validated research now.

They include physical exercise and more specifically fast walking, improving our diet and general nutrition, and brain training exercises (I have forgotten the other two things… once I’ve waded through his book I’ll write this up in more detail.

The ‘side effects’ for these lifestyle changes, are that we reduce our chance of getting diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses by over 50%.

Wow, if there was a ‘wonder drug/ to do this, it would be all over the news, but something as simple as walking and healthy eating… too easy (actually, too hard for too many of us).

So, if you are not already doing so, start walking, and increase it to fast walking, today.

If you work in aged care, and really want to support your residents well, and improve their QoL, start them walking today. If there are no funds to support this, find volunteers. My case study and blog on walking as an intervention for wandering is relevant to this conversation today as well. the DPS News also reported on walking as a falls prevention activity, which you can read about here. There is no longer a valid excuse not to.

Oh, and getting rid of the negative label wandering, will help with this too. Walking is normal, extremely good for us, improves our physical and mental health, and almost everyone wants to do it.

Do get a copy of both of Norman Doidge’s books, and read them. You will be enlightened, I can virtually guarantee it.

12 thoughts on “We should ALL be walking, even people with dementia

  1. Yesterday I walked to the top of Bald Rock, Bald Rock National Park, breathed the cool air and felt great. Dementia nowhere to be seen.

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  3. Hello Kate, thanks for your excellent post about walking. My 85 y.o. dad has dementia and is likely to go into care very soon. He is still very active, and would walk on average 1-2 hours per day. He has no other medical issues (apart from AD). I am very concerned how HE will settle in as well as how staff will cope with his wish to walk extensively and daily as someone will need to accompany him at all times.
    I was wondering if any studies have ever been done, or if you found any references to back up your admirable research. I would love to hear it. Thanks once again for your excellent and interesting posts! With loving thanks from Corry

    • There are lots of smaller studies, and also, get a copy of Norman Doidge’s book Healing the Brain, as that explains it well. Good luck with finding a facility to support his desire to continue to walk… it is not only good for his soul but very good for his health, including cognitive health. xox

  4. Kate – I obviously didn’t hear the speech, but maybe one of the 5 points was to “socialise” because there has been a LOT of publicity lately about people who socialise are delaying dementia (or words to that effect) …. hope you know what I’m referring to ……

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  6. My father walks five kilometres a day and he loves doing it. It makes a huge difference to how he feels. Its great too that he lives in a smaller community where everyone knows him so I feel like he’s completely safe. I know he will have help if needed and its important to him to keep doing it.

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