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Take Your Brain for a Walk: The One Thing You Can Do to Promote Brain Health

Walking is good for brain health

Brain health is a crucial component of your overall health and wellness. It needs the right nutrients and protection as any other major organ in your body does. But there’s also another powerful, brain-boosting method that can improve your mood, stave off depression and prevent Alzheimer’s that only requires a pair of comfortable shoes. That’s right, if you want to reap the benefits of a better mood, a better outlook on life and increased memory into your old age, you should at least do this one thing every day: walking!

Walking May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s

The hippocampus is a an area of the brain responsible for learning and memory through the daily generation of new neurons. Most of these neurons don’t survive but new research suggests we can grow more, even stronger neurons than you normally produce. Exercise, specifically low-intensity walking, is one of the best ways to do that. These studies have shown that people who exercise more have bigger hippocampi than those who don’t, which reduces the chance of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. According to this research, walking one mile a day lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s by 48%!

Walking Reduces Stress

Another way to grow and maintain those neurons is to reduce stress and meditate. In an interesting study, researchers had participants participate in low-intensity walking in combination with an easy meditative practice. The results were overwhelmingly positive for those who walked and meditated versus those who simply walked. This is good news for your brain and improving your memory over time. Less stress means that your hippocampal neurons grow stronger and also help reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s.

Walking Amongst Nature Relieves Depression

Other research has shown that taking a walk in a peaceful, parklike environment among lush trees, grass and other natural elements reduces the flow of blood to the subgenual prefrontal cortex, the portion of the brain closely associated with ‘morbid rumination’ or brooding, which researches consider a precursor for depression. This phenomenon clearly explains why, especially after a long, stressful day, taking a walk can help calm you down and put things into perspective. You brain begins to shift its focus and deliver oxygen and other nutrients elsewhere.

Have you ever found another reason to NOT take a walk? The brain health benefits are dramatic. Consider adding even a 10 minute walk a couple of times a week just to see an improvement in your mood or to de-stress. Over time, you may find yourself walking for longer periods of time until it becomes a daily, brain-boosting ritual that will greatly benefit you well into old age.

Suzanne Schaper is a Board Certified Massage Therapist serving Lenexa and Overland Park, KS. She loves sharing her knowledge for health and wellness with her customers. "A life free of pain and disease is a more full life." Suzanne enjoys assisting her customers in their pursuit of health and happiness.

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