Study: Brisk Walking Can Build The Brain Back Up

A recent study followed 250 older men and women for six months to determine how three different regimens of physical activity (stretching/balancing, brisk walking, dancing) would affect, or possibly refresh, white brain matter and memory.

All of the volunteers were tested to establish their current fitness and cognitive skills. MRI brain scans assessed the health and function of their white brain matter.

More from the New York Times:

They divided the volunteers into groups, one of which began a supervised program of stretching and balance training three times a week, to serve as an active control. Another started walking together three times a week, briskly, for about 40 minutes. And the final group took up dancing, meeting three times a week to learn and practice line dances and group choreography.

All of the groups trained for six months, then returned to the lab to repeat the tests from the study’s start.

The walkers and dancers were aerobically fitter, as expected. Even more important, their white matter seemed renewed.

In the new scans, the nerve fibers in certain portions of their brains looked larger, and any tissue lesions had shrunk. These desirable alterations were most prevalent among the walkers, who also performed better on memory tests now. The dancers, in general, did not.

The researchers theorize that those who took part in dance classes saw less improvement because they spent some of their time standing and watching instructors. The walkers’ intensity was constant during each 40 minute period.

Read the full article here.

I’m personally interested in this as I’m aware of some ‘brain fog’ setting in over the past year. I’m sure some is related to the pandemic, but I’ve been looking for ways to clear the ‘fog.’ Excuse me as I walk around my neighborhood.