Is A Brisk Walk Good For The Brain?

Walking has been described as the easiest and best exercise for everyone. We find some very compelling benefits to motivate including walking into your daily routine. Making the walk as a daily brisk walk will make you healthier.

For example, regular brisk walking can help you:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
  • Strengthen your bones
  • Lift your mood
  • Improve your balance and coordination

The faster, farther and more frequently you walk, the greater the benefits.

Watch your posture and the way you stride: 
  • Your head should be up. Look forward, not at the ground.
  • Your neck, shoulders and back should be relaxed, not stiffly upright.
  • You should be swinging your arms freely with a slight bend in your elbows. 
  • Your stomach muscles should be slightly contracted and tightened and your back should be straight.
  • You should be walking smoothly, rolling your foot from heel to toe.

A study released researchers at the University of Pittsburgh shows that walking a few miles per week can stave off the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. According to the BBC, the study proves that “people who walk at least [5 miles] a week have bigger brains, better memories and improved mental ability compared to those who are more sedentary.”

This follows an earlier study released in August. Led by Dr. Arthur F. Kramer, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have shown that walking not only builds up your muscles, but also builds up the connectivity between brain circuits. This is important because as we age, the connectivity between those circuits diminishes and affects how well we do every day tasks, such as driving. But aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, helps revive those flagging brain circuits.

The gotcha: It doesn’t happen overnight. It took a full year of walking for the results to be seen. Even the six-month test results showed no significant brain changes. The group that did the stretching exercises saw no cognitive benefit.

This isn’t the first study to reach this conclusion. Recent research from the Harvard School of Public Health tracked more than 18,000 women ages 70 to 81 and concluded that the more active we are, the better our cognition. Specifically, walking one-and-a-half hours a week at a pace of one mile in 16-20 minutes gives the full cognitive benefits.

Walking may just be the wonder drug of old age. 

Five walking tips:

1. Walk with a work friend.
Not only will it be more fun than a solitary stroll, but also it won’t feel like exercise. Get into a good conversation, and the walk may go on longer than you intended. More steps mean a greater health benefit for you.

2. Active people have more energy.
Our attention naturally starts to dwindle in the middle of the afternoon. Take a 10-minute brisk walk around the office at 3 p.m., and you’ll give yourself a natural shot of energy.

3. Fresh air and sunshine will clear your mind.
If possible, take your afternoon walk outside. Being outdoors just a few minutes a day will clear your mind and reinvigorate you for the next task on your to-do list.

4. Roaming the office facilitates lots of social interaction.
When you walk the halls, you may see people you wouldn’t have otherwise encountered. This interaction can create new ideas, information, advice and opportunities. Find a colleague, go for a walk and renew your connection with the coworkers you don’t see as often.

5. Physical activity helps your brain.
If you’re stuck on a big project or just feel overwhelmed by that never-ending to-do list, grab a colleague, take a walk and brainstorm. It’s a double benefit: You’ll have new ideas and more energy.

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photo credit: Google Images

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