1. Health
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Walking For Your Mind and Spirit

Part 1: This is Your Brain on Walking


Updated June 09, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Stretching Overhead
Jordan Siemens / Taxi / Getty Images

Walking and exercise has benefits beyond the merely physical. Many people walk as much for mental and spiritual well-being as for fitness.

Can walking make you happy? Can it help you deal with life stress? Can it help you work through relationship problems? Can it lead to a deeper spiritual and religious life? For many, the answer is yes.

This is Your Brain on Walking

Exercise, such as walking, increases the blood flow to the brain. A 1999 study of people over age 60 found that walking 45 minutes a day at a 16-minute mile pace improved thinking skills. The participants started at 15 minutes of walking and built up their time and speed. The result was that the same people were mentally sharper after taking up this walking program.

A study in 2011 showed that older adults walking 40 minutes a day, three times a week, reduced the normal age-related shrinkage of the brain's hippocampus, which is where the brain processes memory and emotions. After a year, they improved their performance on spatial memory tasks.

Get smart - get walking.

Next page>> 2. Walking Away the Blues


Kramer, Arthur F. et. al. "Ageing, fitness and neurocognitive function" Nature. July 29, 1999. doi:10.1038/22682

Erickson, K. et. al. "Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory." PNAS February 15, 2011 vol. 108 no. 7 3017-3022.

Related Video
Get a Better Walking Workout by Avoiding these Pitfalls

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.