How to Wake Up the Brain with Walking: Elderly Walking for Brain Health

Remember in elementary school when kids got to choose who would be on their teams for sports?  I wasn’t high on anyone’s list, thanks to my limited athletic ability.  But there is one activity almost anyone can excel in—walking.  In an earlier post (Moving More in 2014) we noted that even 20 minutes of walking can benefit your brain.  But, baby it’s cold outside and at the rate we’re going here in Minnesota, we won’t be walking outside until June.  But our brains can’t wait for summer—those cells need an energy boost now.

So, let’s just ‘do it’, as they say.   Just walk.  No big preparation or training needed.  We’ve all heard of mall walkers?  Well we can be hall walkers.  And forget step machines—if you live with stairs you can use those, if you can still get up and down them.  No need to be speedy—remember it’s the steady tortoise that wins the race.

Need motivation?  Try this terrific and informative 9 minute Ted Talk by Dr. Mike Evans, challenging us to “limit our sitting and sleeping to just 23 & ½ hours a day.”  That leaves 30 minutes to move!  Need more?  Try these:

  • Use a pedometer to count your steps.
  • Track your progress: so many steps to a mile, so many miles to the nearest destination—like a state park, or capital building—and see how long it takes you to walk ‘there.’  Mark your progress on a map.
  • Walk with a friend.  Make it a goal to walk a little farther each day, up to 30 minutes, if possible.
  • Too painful to walk?  If you are at a New Perspective Community, chances are there is a warm water therapy pool, and you can ‘walk’ there, to ease the pain.
  • Walk with a walker—or a cane, or whatever support you need.  Every step counts.

We’ve got this.  We’re made to move.  So just—walk.