It might surprise you to hear that something as simple as walking can improve your brainpower.
It doesn’t even have to be full-on power walking. Even a 20- or 30-minute walk during your lunch break can have a positive impact on your brain. Walking also reduces your stress and improves your overall sense of well-being.
I’ve always said that those who walk their dogs daily tend to have better relationships with their neighbours, lower stress levels and better cardiac health. Now research is full-on endorsing this belief.
Here are eight ways science has proven that walking is excellent for your brain:
Walking helps lower your risk of depression
Walking is an excellent way to improve your mental health.
A 2018 study showed that any kind of moderate aerobic exercise like brisk walking can boost your brain health and lower your risk of developing depression by a third.
Walking improves your cognitive function
A number of studies have shown that the magic amount of 20 to 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise, such as walking, improves cognitive function and memory.
Walking stimulates endorphins
Just 10 minutes of walking is enough to start your brain releasing endorphins, the brain chemicals that lower stress, boost your mental health and make you feel good.
You’ve heard of the runner’s high?
Well, you can get a similar positive rush from a brisk walk!
Walking releases the brain’s magic protein
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been dubbed the brain’s ‘magic protein,’ since it helps to rewire and build new neural pathways.
Scientists believe it can even help lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
And cardiovascular exercise is an easy way to stimulate the production of BDNF and keep your brain in peak condition.
Walking lowers physical and mental fatigue
A 2008 study by the University of Georgia found that just three sessions a week of a low-intensity exercise like walking can reduce fatigue levels by as much as 65 per cent.
Walking builds hippocampus strength
Your hippocampus is the key part of the brain for forming and storing memories.
Research has shown that even brief walks can increase the size and efficiency of your hippocampus.
Walking improves creativity
Artists, writers and philosophers have long known the importance of walking for clearing blocked creativity and getting inspiration flowing again.
Science can now back this up with a 2014 study by Stanford University showing that walking increases your creative output by up to 60 per cent.
Walking increases blood flow to the brain
Blood is vital for every organ in your body, not least of all your brain.
That magic 20 minutes is all it takes to increase the blood flow to your brain to keep it active and healthy.
Troy Media columnist Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications.