In this excerpt from the Johns Hopkins Memory Bulletin, Dr. Peter V. Rabins provides readers with his personal formula for walking to preserve memory:

The benefits of exercise for health are not a new discovery: More than two millennia ago, Hippocrates said that when the body is unused and left idle, body parts become susceptible to disease and the body as a whole ages quickly.


Hippocrates’s observations are still valid. Research has proven that regular physical activity helps decrease your chances of having a heart attack or stroke by improving circulation and metabolism. Regular exercise also lowers both your heart rate and your blood pressure and helps clear life-threatening plaque from arteries. This all not only translates into an improved heart profile but also may help ward off dementia.

Now, new research from Italy reported in the recent issue of the journal Neurology points out that daily walking and other forms of non-strenuous physical activity may significantly reduce your risk of vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease.

I am going to ask you to walk daily over the next eight weeks. Of all the physical activities, I have chosen walking not only because it uses almost all of the 650 muscles and 206 bones in the body, but also because it is a great way to shed pounds and develop muscle.

Granted, most people walk no more than 6,000 steps daily. By the eighth week of your walking program, I want you to increase that distance to at least 10,000 steps a day.

All you will need to purchase is an inexpensive pedometer to do your step counting for you. I find that a step counter is an invaluable piece of equipment to own. Purchase one at your local sporting goods store or buy one on the Web.

My goal for everyone is to walk at least 10,000 steps a day; stick with the program and I guarantee that by week eight you will have no trouble accomplishing this goal.

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