Can Regular Brisk Walking Improve Your Memory?
If your concern is the locational memory aspect of your brain, using your spatial intelligence to remember where things are in relation to you; then yes, spending more time on foot will help exercise the brain region responsible for navigation (the hippocampus).
According to Director of Clinical Exercise Physiology at Cooper University Hospital Robert Gotlin “Increasing blood flow puts more oxygen into the cells and thus burns more glucose, eliminating any hint of mental fatigue.” This translated means this physical activity improves energy levels while increasing our cognitive performance.
Regular, brisk walking improves your memory in the short-term.
Scientific American cites a study done at Stanford University in which participants were placed on their smart phones with game apps that had them turn around when they reached an invisible circle and then recorded how many laps they walked. Those who exercised performed significantly better in their games than those who just “waited.” They also found that the more time spent exercising before testing for memory, the better the results shown during tests assessing short-term working memory after exercise or waiting.
According to researchers in Japan, walking may work by increasing levels of nitric oxide (NO). NO is an important neurotransmitter in how memories are stored and retrieved.
Second, walking can maintain blood circulation — which reduces clumping of platelets that can be detrimental for brain function.
Finally, vascular problems lead to decreased levels of oxygen being delivered to certain parts of the brain, which can further interfere with memory formation and retrieval.
The good news is that these experiments were conducted on Alzheimer’s patients — but there are no known side effects or allergies so it should be safe for anyone willing-to-try-it who has healthy legs to walk.
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