“Walking makes you healthy, happy and smart”
Walking is boring and old-fashioned? Perhaps it seems so, but leisurely walking definitely has future potential, and it is very personal for each and every one of us. You don’t need any special clothing or expensive equipment and you train your brain in an effective way. You also provide an additional spark of happiness in life. Do not you think? However, new findings speak for it.
A drug with this performance would be in great demand
The well-known cognitive scientist Katharina Turecek says: “Walking makes you healthy, happy and smart.” That’s a lot all at once – for a casual stroll. “If there were a drug that did all of this but had hardly any side effects, the demand would be enormous,” she adds – and that really gives food for thought.
At the beginning, every person has around 86 billion nerve cells, which reduce over the years, depending on the stress and environmental influences. Inactivity is the main aging factor at this point, but there is hope: In the 1990s, researchers discovered adult neurogenesis, i.e. the formation of new nerve cells in adulthood. Movement stimulates the body to produce neural growth factors that are necessary for this. In order to get the process going, there is no need for competitive sport or extensive strength training, on the contrary: The hippocampus grows in people who walk a lot, while in intensive athletes it shrinks in the normal range. Studies also show that students who reach their educational institution after a 20-minute walk learn significantly better than the comparison group who was brought in by car or bus.
Important: the interaction with mental movement
However, the newly acquired nerve cells have to be “filled” in order to preserve them. This requires additional mental exercise, for example the “brain walks” invented by Turecek.
Stress, on the other hand, leads to increased levels of cortisol, and the hormone damages the hippocampus. With constant stress, the important brain area shrinks, which can lead to depression. If the treatment of depressive moods is successful, the hippocampus recovers. If you can accelerate this healing trend and lighten your mood, you would do well to go for a walk every day. In addition, a dose of brains comes into the house.