I’ve known for some time that a sedentary lifestyle is not the best way to age well. I know that getting outside for a walk each day will help me stay trim, keep my bones strong, manage my high blood pressure and prevent heart disease and diabetes.
I haven’t always acted on this knowledge. Until now.
I fear Alzheimer’s and memory loss just as much or more than I fear other health conditions. I’m betting you do, too.
When I read the two pieces of research I’m about to share with you, I promised myself I’d start walking daily.
I’ve been true to my word. I hope you will be, too.
We know that a good, brisk walk can improve your mood, get the blood flowing and help you concentrate better. But there’s more to it than that.
Two studies released last year show that, in fact, every step we take actually results in physical changes to the brain that improve our ability to hold on to memories and use them when we need them.
A team of researchers at New Mexico Highlands University discovered something seemingly simple, yet vitally important about walking and our brain.
They found that the foot’s impact during walking sends pressure waves through the arteries that increase blood supply to the brain.
With increased blood flow comes more oxygen to support the brain areas responsible for memory and cognition.
Not only that: the researchers found that when we walk briskly, our stride rate (number of steps per minute) and heart rate tend to fall into sync, revealing the vital connection between the two.
The second important study comes from the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California.
Researchers there worked with a group of 29 adults ages 60 or above. All started with some degree of memory complaints, but none were diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Participants were divided into two groups:
All underwent MRIs and neuropsychological tests to assess their cognitive capacity.
The high physical activity group had thicker hippocampi (the hippocampus is the brain region responsible for mood, memory and learning). Walking had actually changed the size of their brains!
This group also had better attention, speedier information processing ability and more efficient working memory (the way we store short-term experiences and access them as needed).
Convinced? Need some tips for how to get all that walking done in a typical, busy day? Here you go!
Here are some ways to sneak in some steps during the course of your day:
Editor’s note: One of the biggest dangers to your brain is a drug that 38 million Americans take every single day. It robs the brain of an essential nutrient required for optimal brain health. And it steals memories. Are you taking it? Click here to find out!
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