Pick Up the Pace: Brisk Walking Can Boost Your Brain Health
Walking is a great way to support optimal brain health. Brisk walking is even better!
Taking a stroll at a clip that gets your blood pumping is considered “moderately intense” physical activity, a level that confers many health benefits, researchers noted.
The brain benefits of physical activity include improved mood, sleep, and executive function, such as the ability to plan, organize, and initiate tasks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Compared to those who are inactive, people who do greater amounts of moderate- or vigorous-intensity physical activity may experience improvements in cognition, including performance on academic achievement tests and other assessments, such as those involving mental processing speed, memory, and executive function, the agency notes.
“Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age,” the CDC adds.
Other studies echo these conclusions.
One group of researchers suggest that regular walking is known to confer many physical, mental, and social health benefits. They also note that increasing one’s walking pace appears to be linked with greater longevity. As such, they recommend that, “Walking pace should be emphasized in public health messages, especially in circumstances when increase in walking volume or frequency is less feasible.”
How Fast is Brisk?
Walking at 3.5 mph is considered “moderate” physical activity, while a clip of 4.5 mph is considered “vigorous” activity, according to U.S. National Institutes of Health.
But not everyone owns a pedometer. Individuals can tell if they are walking briskly (with moderate intensity) because they will breathe faster, as well as experience an increase in heart rate and feel warmer, according to the Public Health Agency of England.
Walking briskly “provides one of the greatest opportunities for those who are sufficiently mobile to be physically active,” the British report added. Benefits from 10 minutes of brisk walking per day for 7 days included increased physical fitness, greater ease of performance of everyday physical activities, improved mood, improved quality of life, and a 15% reduction in risk of early death.
Bottom Line: Pharmacists can recommend their clients consider walking as way to exercise both their body and mind. They also can gently urge them to pick up the pace.