How the Simple Act of Walking Can Change Your Brain
Did you know that walking can significantly change your brain?
In Dr. Norman Doidge’s book The Brain That Changes Itself, he says:
“The brain is a far more open system than we ever imagined, and nature has gone very far to help us perceive and take in the world around us. It has given us a brain that survives in a changing world by changing itself.”
If you’ve read this book, or know a thing or two about neuroscience, you’ll know he’s talking about a process called neuroplasticity - the brain’s ability to form new neural connections. And you’ll also know that there are many ways we can contribute to, or hinder, this very process.
Thanks to Dr. Norman Doidge, and many other brilliant scientists, we now have scientific evidence that fast walking is an effective way to increase the size of the hippocampus; a major part of our brain associated with short term memory, long term memory, and spatial navigation.
What’s especially remarkable about these findings is that the hippocampus tends to shrink as we age. In Alzheimer’s Disease, for example, the hippocampus is one of the first areas of the brain to degenerate. So the fact we can actually grow brain cells in this region is incredible!
If you want to help this region of the brain thrive, even into old age, I suggest you consider including brisk walking into your daily routine.
This simple act comes with a myriad of benefits including:
- Prevents the onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia
- Improves your memory
- Improves your attention span
- Reduces stress
- Brightens your mood
- Strengthens your bones and muscles
- Improves your balance and coordination
- Prevents heart disease
… and the list goes on …
Here are some tips on keeping your hippocampus healthy and happy:
Start slowly, even if it’s just 5 minutes a day, and gradually work up the speed and the length of your walk.
Consider walking at least 3 kilometres daily.
Walk in nature if you can.
Stay present while you’re walking; don’t let your mind ruminate on the past or fixate on the future.
Walk with a friend. Social engagement is also key to healthy, happy brain.
Ready to grow some brain cells?
With love, Edita