Walking improves overall health. Just 30 minutes of walking every day can increase cardiovascular fitness. It strengthens bones. It can reduce excess body fat. It can increase muscle strength and endurance. Recent studies show that walking increases brain connectivity (walking benefits brain) and memory (walking boosts memory) in elderly people.
Positive effect of Walking on Brain
The University of Maryland School of Public Health conducted a special study. In this, a group of 33 participants aged 71 to 85 were studied for a period of 12 weeks. In this, they were closely monitored while walking on a treadmill four days a week.
This new study found that walking improved connections between three brain networks associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Walking had a positive effect on brain health (walking benefits brain).
Walking increases the ability to remember things
It also examined the brain and event recall skills of older adults. These older people also had mild cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment refers to mild declines in cognitive abilities such as memory, reasoning, and judgment. It is considered a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
The findings were also published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease Reports. According to the researchers, the brain networks studied in this research show mild cognitive impairment and decline towards Alzheimer’s disease over time. These networks disconnect over time. As a result people lose the ability to think clearly and remember things. Walking strengthens these relationships.
Changes in communication between brain networks
Walking has been shown to reduce cerebral blood flow and enhance brain function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. The participants in the study also underwent functioning MRI scans (fMRI). This helped the researchers quantify communication changes within and between three brain networks responsible for cognitive function.
Default Mode Network
The default mode network is activated when a person is not engaged in a specific task. Like daydreaming or thinking about a shopping list for the house. It is intricately linked to the hippocampus, one of the areas of the brain that experiences the early effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, tests often reveal the presence of Alzheimer’s-related markers such as amyloid plaques, which are abnormal protein deposits surrounding nerve cells in this network.
This network influences decision-making processes when individuals are engaged in tasks. It also plays a role in memory functions (walking benefits brain). In addition, the main network monitors external stimuli and the surrounding environment. It determines what the brain should pay more attention to. Walking also facilitates seamless communication between different brain networks to optimize overall cognitive performance.
brain adapts over time
After the 12-week practice, the researchers observed a significant increase in the participants’ ability to recall the story. Brain activity was stronger and more synchronized. Walking can actually stimulate the brain’s ability to adapt to time and need. Walking may be useful as a way of helping people with mild cognitive impairment to stop or stabilize themselves. Going forward, it may also help in the treatment of Alzheimer’s dementia.
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