How Walking Benefits Your BrainYou know it's good for your muscles, heart and lungs. But walking is also good for your brain.
When you pound the pavement, the impact of your foot sends pressure waves through your arteries that significantly modify and can increase the supply of blood to the brain, according to a small study conducted by researchers from New Mexico Highlands University.
Until recently, it was thought that the blood supply to the brain (cerebral blood flow or CBF) was involuntarily regulated by the body and relatively unaffected by changes in the blood pressure caused by exercise or exertion.
But now the New Mexico Highlands researchers have found that the foot's impact during running causes significant impact-related retrograde waves through the arteries that sync with the heart rate and stride rate to dynamically regulate blood circulation to the brain.
Translation: The waves are in sync with your heart rate and stride, whether you're walking or running. The faster you move, the better it is for your brain.
The study: Led by Ernest Green, Ph.D., the research team used non-invasive ultrasound to measure internal carotid artery blood velocity waves and arterial diameters to calculate hemispheric CBF to both sides of the brain of 12 healthy young adults during rest while standing upright and while walking at a steady pace.
The results: While there is lighter foot impact associated with walking compared with running, walking still produces larger pressure waves in the body that significantly increase blood flow to the brain. While the effects of walking on CBF were less dramatic than those caused by running, they were greater than the effects seen during cycling, which involves no foot impact at all. Green says the results suggest that "brain blood flow is very dynamic."
The research findings were presented at the APS annual meeting at Experimental Biology 2017 in Chicago. Until the study is published in a peer-reviewed journal, it is considered preliminary.
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