30 minutes to Alzheimer’s prevention

Skip the costly gym memberships and sweaty hamster wheel sessions, and go for a walk instead. Because when it comes to “exercise,” a little can go a long way toward saving your brain.

All it takes is a brisk 30-minute stroll three to four times a week. The result? Increased blood flow to the brain that can ultimately reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s.

Researchers at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas studied 16 women who were all 60 years old or older. They measured the women’s blood flow in the carotid arteries in the neck in order to determine how the blood flow to the brain changed as the women walked. They found that blood flow increased by 15 percent in the left carotid artery, and 11 percent in the right.

Although previous research has shown that staying active can help improve brain function into your golden years, most studies don’t bother to answer the question of why. Based on this study, the answer appears to be related to the increased blood flow.

It makes sense. After all, increased blood flow carries with it more oxygen, glucose, and other nutrients that support brain health. The blood also helps to wash away waste products, like the beta-amyloid plaque associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

For an added benefit, head outside to do your walking. The fresh air will do you good—and you’ll be getting some much-needed vitamin D while you’re at it.