Making for a Better Brain With Walking
By walking 30 minutes or more a day you will not only increase the blood flow to your brain, but you will also get your body into shape. Regardless of what your art form is, you will benefit physically and will also show an invogorated sense of well-being that will improve both your intellect and creative talents. While walking you may also want to participate in some creativity exercises that we will soon have posted. Walking is especially good for your brain, because it increases blood circulation and the oxygen and glucose that reach your brain. Walking is not strenuous, so your leg muscles don't take up extra oxygen and glucose like they do during other forms of exercise. As you walk, you effectively oxygenate your brain. Maybe this is why walking can "clear your head" and help you to think better.
Movement and exercise increase breathing and heart rate so that more blood flows to the brain, enhancing energy production and waste removal. Studies show that in response to exercise, cerebral blood vessels can grow, even in middle-aged sedentary animals.
Studies of senior citizens who walk regularly showed significant improvement in memory skills compared to sedentary elderly people.
Walking also improved their learning ability, concentration, and abstract reasoning. Stroke risk was cut by 57% in people who walked as little as 20 minutes a day When the cognitive abilities of elderly women were compared, those who walked regularly were less likely to experience age-related memory loss and other declines in mental function.
University of California at San Francisco researchers measured the brain function of nearly 6,000 women during an eight-year period. The results were correlated with the women's normal activity level, including their routine walking and stair-climbing.
"In the higher-energy groups, we saw much less cognitive decline," said neurologist Kristine Yaffe, MD. Of the women who walked the least (a half-mile per week), 24% had significant declines in their test scores, compared to only 17% of the most active women (17 miles per week).
It wasn't a matter of all or nothing. "We also found that for every extra mile walked per week there was a 13% less chance of cognitive decline," said Yaffe, who is Chief of Geriatric Psychiatry at the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center. "So you don't need to be running marathons. The exciting thing is there was a 'dose' relationship which showed that even a little is good but more is better."
"In the higher-energy groups, we saw much less cognitive decline" – a protective effect amounting to as much as 40% – according to Yaffe. "This is an important intervention that all of us can do and it could have huge implications in preventing cognitive decline."
In the morning, while you're still in bed, slowly begin to move your toes – any way that feels good. Wriggle, scrunch, and stretch. Move all your toes up and down several times, or work just your big toes. Wiggling your toes activates nerves that stimulate your brain and internal organs.
Do this exercise first thing each morning or after sitting for an extended period of time. It will help you to wake-up and become alert more quickly. Your whole body may feel pleasantly energized. Most important, your first steps – and those throughout the day – will be safer ones. (Falls are the second leading cause of spinal cord and brain injury among people over 65 years old.)
Thanks to The Franklin Institute Online: http://www.fi.edu/brain/