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Octogenarian walks 80 miles for Alzheimer's

July 24, 2012

Staying physically active is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle for seniors, and 80-year-old Je'Nell Blocher has certainly taken that to heart. The South Mississippi native volunteers and exercises regularly, but her latest endeavor took things to the next level when she walked 80 miles for Alzheimer's research, ABC affiliate WLOX reports.

The cause is certainly one that is very close to Blocher's heart. Her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and she cared for him for more than seven years before he passed away. Though an 80-mile trek is impressive, it was not her first choice for how to mark her 80th birthday.

"I wanted to do something like [George H.W.]  Bush and jump out of an airplane or something, but my kids told me, 'Mother you have two new knees. We don't want to damage those, so no airplanes, no hot air balloons, nothing like that,'" she told the new channel. "So I thought I might as well do something that means something."

She definitely delivered. Her journey, which she completed despite breaking a rib in the process, raised more than $3,000 for the cause. In addition to the money, the walk may have also raised awareness of how important exercise is in helping prevent the development of Alzheimer's disease.

A study from 2010 may present the strongest evidence supporting walking as a means to prevent the disease. The research, out of the University of Pittsburgh, found that walking as little as five or six miles a week could protect the brain structure of people with mild cognitive impairment, according to HealthDay News.