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Walk Your Way to a Bigger, Better Brain

Walk Your Way to a Bigger, Better Brain

We don’t often think about taking our brain on a brisk walk or run but that’s the advice British researchers are offering after studying the potential benefits of exercise for staving off dementia.

Professor Clive Ballard researches age-related diseases at Kings College London and found that exercise has a more noticeable impact on slowing cognitive decline than completing puzzles, which are well-known to maintain brain health. Specifically, brisk walking or moderate jogging for 40 minutes three times a week will help people protect themselves from the ravages of dementia.

Ballard’s work echoes findings from the University of Pittsburgh.  Earlier this year, researchers at the University found that participants in their study experienced brain growth after three weekly sessions of moderate exercise – like a fast-paced 40 minute walk.  Considering our brains shrink by about one percent annually, the researchers considered a two percent increase in brain size to be significant.  They also found that the participants between the ages of 55 and 80 who exercised experienced an increase in the size of the hippocampus.  This part of the brain is largely responsible for our memory and ability to discern spatial relationships.

Research in 2010 by the University of Cambridge and the U.S. National Institute on Aging in Maryland explored the exercise-brain health connection in mice. Scientists found that mice that ran an average of 15 miles a day doubled the scores of their sedentary companions on memory tests. Fortunately, humans don’t have to run mini-marathons to see the benefits of taking their brains out for some exercise.

Ballard, who is leading a long-term study on “brain training” for older people found that intellectual games like crossword puzzles offer little positive impact on brain health when it comes to cognitive disorders  that fall under the general term of dementia.  He also found they did not offer protection against Alzheimer’s disease, arguably the most well-known and feared form of dementia. That’s not a good enough reason to stop enjoying your crosswords and Sudoku puzzles.  Just remember to get up off the couch and take your brain for a lap around the block.

 

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Michelle Schoffro Cook

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, PhD is an international best-selling and 15-time book author and doctor of traditional natural medicine, whose works include: 60 Seconds to Slim, Weekend Wonder Detox, Healing Recipes, The Vitality Diet, Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, Total Body Detox, The Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan, and The Phytozyme Cure. Subscribe to her free e-magazine World's Healthiest News at WorldsHealthiestDiet.com to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow her on Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.

144 comments

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1:45PM PDT on Jul 15, 2014

Thank you

7:56AM PDT on Apr 29, 2014

Walking meditation.. one of the best kinds. :-)

4:18AM PDT on Apr 27, 2014

Interesting :) Thanks for the article :D

7:50PM PDT on Apr 26, 2014

awesome , thx for sharing

7:39AM PDT on Apr 18, 2014

I ride my cruiser bike 3 miles a day briskly, I hope this works, as my feet can't take power walks or running any more!

8:52AM PDT on Apr 16, 2014

very interesting thanks!

6:58PM PDT on Apr 14, 2014

Thank you for sharing !

5:51AM PDT on Apr 14, 2014

Bigger brain and smaller body

8:45AM PDT on Apr 5, 2014

Live long & prosper!

8:12AM PDT on Apr 4, 2014

This actually makes sense when you think about it, as people get older they tend to become less active and don't get the exercise that they require. This in turn causes muscle loss and weakness, so get out there enjoy the beauty and stay healthy.

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