Tired of your fitness routine? You may want to give walking a try. Not only will it help you burn calories, boost heart health and potentially add years to your life, new research finds walking is also crucial for optimal brain health. It increases blood flow to the brain, which is linked to better cognitive function, protection against decline and improved memory, and a new study reveals how walking is so effective at these, especially as we get older.
Our brains are made up of gray matter, or tissue containing nerve cells, and white matter, which is tissue that connects those nerve cells. Think of the gray matter as the computer and white matter as the cables that connect everything and send signals. This study looks at how white matter responds to exercise by splitting a group of 250 healthy adults 60 and over into three groups – one that did a stretching and balance training program three times a week, one that did 40 minutes of brisk walking three times a week and the third that took dancing lessons three times a week.
After six months of this, participants were tested for cognition, memory, fitness and white matter volume. And while both the walkers and the dancers were in much better physical shape, even researchers were surprised that the walkers showed the biggest improvements in both memory and white matter. The findings show that white matter can be improved late in adulthood, and even better? Study authors say their research suggests all it takes is a few brisk walks a week to keep your white matter healthy and your memory sharp.
Source: Eat This, Not That