Slow walking does your brain bad.

Though you may think that a “relaxed” walk is healthy, it can damage your brain in the long run.

If you’re a “relaxed” walker, even inside your house, you may have future dementia on your hands.

Research does not look promising for slow walkers.

This study reminds me of how, all my life, there was always someone who thought I was in some way odd or temperamental because I walked fast.

I could sense their annoyance when I surpassed them in the halls at work. One man at a store just had to make a comment as I breezed past him.

I’ve always known that somehow, someway, fast walking was much better for the body — and that includes the brain — than the slow-poke walking that most people employ.

I didn’t care if someone thought I was too aggressive, rude or odd. My body’s health is a priority. And yours should be too!

A Most Intriguing Study

The study involved 93 participants age 70-plus and living alone, who welcomed the installation of infrared sensors in the ceilings of their homes, which detect walking motion in hallways.

One-third of the participants had MCI: mild cognitive impairment.

After three years of the non-intrusive monitoring of walking speed, researchers determined that subjects with non-memory-related MCI were actually nine times more apt to be slow walkers.

Fluctuation in walking speed was also correlated with MCI.

What can this mean?

  • Does it mean that people with early dementia or mild cognitive impairment don’t like to walk fast or even at a moderate speed?
  • Or does it mean that decades of slow walking cause faster aging of the brain, leading to dementia?

The study’s leader, Hiroko Dodge, PhD, thinks the findings are important enough to warrant more, and larger, studies, to see if walking speed can predict dementia and cognitive problems down the road.

Research has already shown that walking speed and duration are tied to physical health.

For instance, the inability of an elderly person to walk one quarter mile is correlated to mortality and bad health, says a report in the May 2006 Journal of the American Medical Association.

Health Benefits to Slow Walking Have Not Been Discovered

Some people need to walk slowly due to medical conditions such as osteoarthritis or flareups of plantar fasciitis.

Others are perfectly fine as far as their musculoskeletal system, but out of habit, walk at a slow pace.

There are times during which you must walk slowly, such as searching for something down a store aisle.

But whenever you can, you should pick up the pace:

Walk faster than what you’ve been doing all these years, whether it’s at the mall between stores, around the house or on the job.

Pick up the pace when you walk your dog, walk down to the mail box or walk a few dozen yards to greet a neighbor.

Additionally, if you’ve been walking on a treadmill, increase the speed.

Do not hold onto the treadmill, either. Swing your arms naturally.

Holding on disrupts natural posture and worsens balance when you walk around in everyday life without holding onto anything for support.

All of these tactics are beneficial to brain health. In addition, you may want to take the supplement turmeric, for which studies have linked to improved brain health.

Next time you’re making an effort to ditch slow walking, think these words: “I’m doing this for my brain!”

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 
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