Different types of exercise boast various health benefits. From the cardio-boosting effects of running to the anti-aging benefits of yoga, movement creates more than just physical shifts. Even a simple walk around the block may also be doing more beneath the skin than meets the eye. According to The New York Times, a new study found that those who walked on a regular basis reported better brain health over time.
The study showed that exercise directly impacted the white matter in the brain. This matter is responsible for supporting the brain as well as connecting different areas of the organ to keep it functioning properly. The results showed that various aerobic activities such as biking, dancing and walking each spur the white matter to reorganize itself for better cognitive health. Essentially, the brain is constantly responding to how we live our lives, particularly how we move around.
One group in the study balance trained and stretched three times a week while the other group took brisk, 40-minute walks three times a week, the outlet reports. Lastly, the third group took dance classes and learned choreography together. The groups of walkers and dancers showed larger nerve portions in their brains and even reduced the appearance of lesions on their cranial tissues. However, the walkers also reported better memory functioning while the group of dancers didn’t.
Walking directly impacts your brain
The study proved to be a massive discovery in terms of brain health research. It helps underpin the somewhat new concept of brain elasticity. Now, scientists and health professionals understand that brain tissue is malleable; we are constantly supporting it or letting it atrophy throughout our lives. However, The New York Times notes, the study involved people over 60 who had been sedentary prior to participating in the research survey. More studies are needed to show the results for younger people.
The results are promising either way. In addition to benefiting brain health, walking also helps calm anxiety and clarifies your thought patterns. Mindbodygreen reports that, while you’re outside taking a walk, the amygdala — the part of the brain responsible for anxiety — actually shuts off the anxious mechanism slightly. Indeed, the amygdala can only focus on one task at a time, meaning that walking helps slow down our thought patterns and give way to clearer thinking.
Walking clearly impacts your brain. When you leave your phone at home, take a few deep breaths and focus on putting one foot in front of the other, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you feel more relaxed. Plus, it may be helpful for your brain in the long run as well.
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