Want a Healthier Body & Brain? Take a Walk!
Published 9:58 am Monday, May 9, 2022
It’s amazing how much money Americans spend on health & fitness. According to research done by My Protein, a fitness industry company, the average American adult spends $155 per month on their health and fitness – about $112,000 over a lifetime.
What makes that amount even more astounding is that according to the CDC, “Only 23% of Americans get enough exercise…less than a quarter of Americans are meeting all national physical activity guidelines.” This impacts not only our bodies, but our brains as we age. Many people attribute their physical and mental “shape” to family genetics, but the fact is that only about 30% of the characteristics of aging are genetically determined, 70% are linked to lifestyle.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “…a woman who reaches 50 years of age and remains free of cancer and heart disease can expect to live to her 91st birthday. An average healthy male who is 65 years today will most likely live to see age 81.”
What’s the “magic bullet” that provides us with anti-aging ability? It’s exercise. Exercise is the closest thing to an anti-aging pill that exists. People who are physically fit, eat a healthy, balanced diet, and take nutritional supplements can measure out to be 10-20 years biologically younger than their chronological age.
Perhaps, rather than spending $155 every month on fitness centers, fads and equipment, a single annual investment of about $150 to acquire a good pair of walking shoes and taking daily walks, according to a new study from Colorado State University, suggests that “… you may be able to turn back the tide of aging, at least when it comes to your brain.”
The study, published online in Neuroimage, found that participants who completed six months of regular brisk walks experienced better cardiovascular fitness. Researchers also noticed improvements in the deeper tissues of the participant’s brains, called white matter, and in memory compared with people who did only stretching and balance exercises for the same amount of time.
Here’s a key take away regarding our pursuit of living longer, healthier lives and reducing the risks of cognitive decline. Engage in regular exercise that gets the heart beating faster. It’s good for your heart, and what’s good for the heart is good for the brain.
Exercise can increase oxygen and blood flow to all parts of the body, including the brain, and this can improve blood pressure, which is important; high blood pressure is one of the most important risk factors for dementia and neurological disease. Regular physical activity is also associated with improved sleep and decreased stress, which could also have a positive impact on the brain.
Rather than saying that you have no control over your health and longevity, or spending money on gym memberships, trainers, and expensive diets, consider investing in a good pair of walking shoes and slowly building yourself up to taking a 40-minute walk outside in good weather or perhaps at a mall during inclement weather. You’ll feel better, and it may help you live a healthier, longer, and more cognitively sound life.
Ron Kauffman is a Consultant & Expert Speaker on Issues of Aging. He is the author of “Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease” available as a Kindle book on Amazon.com. You may contact him by phone at (828) 696-9799 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org