Keeping your brain healthy can be as simple as taking a walk.
In our busy lives, a daily walk may not always seem possible. But now research shows that taking a moderate walk each day can help keep your brain healthy.
A research team out of the University of California, Los Angeles, conducted a study to examine the effect that a daily walk has on cognitive function. They found that, as you age, it is actually very easy to keep the brain in tip-top shape. All that’s required is a moderately long walk each day.
Walking Keeps the Brain Healthy
Prabha Siddarth, the study author, believes that a daily walk can help boost your attention span. In addition, it can help you process information more efficiently.
Siddarth’s study comprised of 29 participants over the age of 60, split into two groups. The low physical activity group included people who took 4,000 or fewer steps each day. The other group – the high physical activity group – walked more than 4,000 steps per day. None of the participants reported a dementia diagnosis.
During the study, researchers surveyed the study subjects’ memory complaints. In addition, they used MRI scans to examine the thickness of each participant’s hippocampus, the part of the brain we associate with memory. Finally, researchers conducted a set of neuropsychological tests on each participant, to assess their cognitive capacity.
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Medical News Today reports on the research findings:
It was found that those in the high physical activity group — who walked more than 4,000 steps (approximately 3 kilometers) each day — had thicker hippocampi, as well as thicker associated brain regions, when compared with that of the those falling under the low physical activity category.
The highly active group was also found to have better attention, speedier information processing abilities, and more efficient executive function, which includes working memory. Working memory is the resource that we tap into on a daily basis when we need to make spontaneous decisions.
However, Siddarth and colleagues reported no significant differences between the high activity and low activity groups when it came to memory recall.
Let’s face it. Most of us are challenged with memory recall at one time or another. That’s nothing unusual. A physically healthy brain doesn’t necessarily remember everything. What’s important is that the higher activity group showed a structurally healthier brain, even though they still faced challenges when it came to memory recall.
Personally, I have found that taking a walk is a wonderful opportunity to disconnect. It gives you the time to reflect and process what is going on with your life. If it’s keeping the brain healthy, then that’s a bonus I am definitely going to take.
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Modern lifestyles keep us in cars, desk chairs and couches. Less than 100 years ago, such was not the case. People walked as their main mode of daily transportation. They didn’t sit for hours watching TV. They did not rely on their car for every little outing.
Perhaps, as science continues to reveals the benefits of walking, more people realize that the conveniences of modern life aren’t necessarily the best thing for our well-being.
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Moreover, views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Awareness Junkie or its staff.