Going for 15 minute walks can noticeably boost brain health
Regular exercise is known to improve physical health, but a new study has found that 15 minute walks can greatly improve and boost brain health. Published in the journal Neurology, the study found that short periods of exercise had an impact on nearly all parts of the brain.
The researchers used data from the population-based Rhineland Study to compile their findings, focusing on information on the physical activity of 2,500 volunteers between the ages of 30 and 94. They also examined brain scans produced by magnetic resonance imaging. Subjects of the study wore accelerometers to record their physical activity throughout seven days.
They discovered that practically all brain areas were significantly affected by physical exercise, including 15 minute walks, and particularly in those with high concentrations of mitochondria. Blood flow must be increased in the areas of the brain that have a lot of mitochondria due to their need for oxygen. According to the researchers, greater blood flow happens during physical activity, which may help to explain why exercise benefits specific parts of the brain.
“Generally, we can say that the higher and more intense the physical activity, the larger the brain regions were, either with regard to volume or cortical thickness,” said neuroscientist Fabienne Fox. “In particular, we observed this in the hippocampus, which is considered the control center of memory. Larger brain volumes provide better protection against neurodegeneration than smaller ones.”
Comparing sedentary and moderately physically active adults, the researchers saw the biggest volume gain, which was particularly pronounced in people over the age of 70. Furthermore, moderately active and young subjects also recorded high brain volumes. These brain regions were only a bit bigger in subjects who were more active.
“Our study results indicate that even small behavioral changes, such as walking 15 minutes a day or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, may have a substantial positive effect on the brain and potentially counteract age-related loss of brain matter and the development of neurodegenerative diseases,” said lead researcher of Population and Clinical Neuroepidemiology at DZNE, Ahmad Aziz. “In particular, older adults can already profit from modest increases of low intensity physical activity.”
So there you have it, taking 15 minute walks a day will help boost brain health. Try to add this into your daily routine!