Sustainable Living & Dementia

Here’s a practical piece of research that’s relevant to Sustainable Living, in terms of maximizing our quality-of-life experience … and easily accomplished.


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Walk this number of steps each day

to cut your risk of dementia


Sandee LaMotte


6 Sept 2022


Want to reduce your risk for dementia? Slap on a step counter and start tallying your steps – you’ll need between 3,800 and 9,800 each day to reduce your risk of mental decline, according to a new study.

People between the ages of 40 and 79 who took 9,826 steps per day were 50% less likely to develop dementia within seven years, the study found. Furthermore, people who walked with “purpose” – at a pace over 40 steps a minute – were able to cut their risk of dementia by 57% with just 6,315 steps a day.  Study coauthor Borja del Pozo Cruz, an adjunct associate professor at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, Denmark, and senior researcher in health sciences for the University of Cadiz in Spain, said …


“It is a brisk walking activity, like a power walk.”


Even people who walked approximately 3,800 steps a day at any speed cut their risk of dementia by 25%, the study found.  Del Pozo Cruz said, in an email …


“That would be enough, at first,

for sedentary individuals.


“In fact, it is a message that doctors

could use to motivate very sedentary

older adults – 4k steps is very doable

by many, even those that are less fit

or do not feel very motivated.  Per-

haps, more active and fitter indivi-

duals should aim for 10k, where

we see maximum effects.”


But there was a even more interesting result buried in the study, according to an editorial entitled “Is 112 the New 10,000?” published Tuesday in JAMA Neurology.

The largest reduction in dementia risk – 62% – was achieved by people who walked at a very brisk pace of 112 steps per minute for 30 minutes a day, the study found. Prior research has labeled 100 steps a minute (2.7 miles per hour) as a “brisk” or moderate level of intensity.

The editorial, written by Alzheimer’s researchers Ozioma Okonkwo and Elizabeth Planalp, argued that individuals looking to reduce their risk of dementia focus on their walking pace over their walked distance.  Okonkwo is an associate professor in the department of medicine at the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the University of Wisconsin–Madison; Planalp is a research scientist in Okonkwo’s lab.  They wrote …


“While 112 steps/min is a rather

brisk cadence, ’112’ is conceivably

a much more tractable and less

intimidating number for most in-

dividuals than ‘10,000,’ especially

if they have been physically

inactive or underactive.”


Del Pozo Cruz said, via email …


“We do agree this is a very interesting

finding. Our take is that intensity of

stepping matters! Over and above volume.”


Technology could be use to track not only number of steps but also pace and so these types of metrics can also be incorporated in commercial watches. More research is needed on this.

People who walked with “purpose” — at a pace over 40 steps a minute — were able to cut their risk of dementia by 57% with just 6,315 steps a day, a new study said.

Don’t have a step counter? You can count the number of steps you take in 10 seconds and then multiply it by six – or the number of steps you take in six seconds and multiply it by 10. Either way works. But remember, not everyone’s steps are the same length, nor are their fitness levels. What might be a brisk pace for a 40-year-old may not be sustainable for a 70-year-old.


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Trina and I are hikers, so I think we’re in OK shape.  (I’m not sure about the 2.7 miles per hour, as I often have to stop and relieve myself when the trail and woodland present an opportunity.)  What is important is finding a trail that’s beautiful … inspiring, so the walk is a pleasure, not a chore.  Adding a comment from D …


“It’s a wonderful example of something small

that can make a vast difference in your life.”


I had one other insight to share that I know was absolutely crucial … but … I forgot it what it was …

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