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Whether you’re caring for a loved one with dementia or have the condition yourself, a regular walk might be just what you need. We reveal the far-reaching benefits of stepping out and how walking can improve your physical, mental and emotional health

Physical health
A brisk walk can help to keep your heart strong and your weight in control, it can also reduce your risk of high blood pressure which is a key risk factor for stroke. As your general fitness improves, so will your muscle control and co-ordination. Walking also helps to strengthen the bones, making them less likely to break. All of this is good news for anyone with dementia; the stronger and more flexible you remain, the less likely you are to fall, break a bone or develop another condition such as heart disease or stroke.

Mental health
Walking really does exercise the brain. If you’re caring for a loved one, you’ll be pleased to hear that several studies have found physical activity (whatever your age) is associated with a lower risk of developing dementia. For those who are already living with dementia, other studies have shown that walking might improve your memory, slow down its progression and help you sleep better.

Emotional health and wellbeing:
Whoever you are, walking can, quite simply, improve your mood. Walking helps to boost endorphins, or ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain, relieving depression and reducing stress. If you walk with someone else, it can also help to ease social isolation and loneliness.

What kind of walking?
Walk as briskly as you can and as often as you can. The crucial thing is to develop a routine that’s realistic for both of you, and that you can both stick to. The more regularly you walk, the more you’ll see results.

Did you know?

This is National Walking Month. For more tips and ideas, click here.