the mental and physical benefits of the more natural sport, walking-

from Elena Meli

For the results to be really visible (even to stay in shape) it must be practiced continuously and according to the correct doses. On the insert on newsstands for free with the Corriere della sera Thursday 25 November

We are publishing a preview of an article in the new Corriere Salute. You can read the full text on the free issue on newsstands Thursday 25 November or in Pdf on the Digital Edition of Corriere della Sera.

Since we turn a year or so, and then for a lifetime, perhaps the movement that comes to us most spontaneously. But it is also the closest thing to a panacea we know, as Thomas Frieden, then director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, defined it over twenty years ago. Walking was considered an essential health tool two decades ago and today, although many tend to underestimate its effectiveness as a sport, we have overwhelming evidence about it: it benefits body and mind, it can help against countless diseases, it has practically no effects. collateral and even free, plus it offers unexpected benefits that are emerging thanks to scientific research. For example, who would have thought that the daily walk could increase creativity? Yet divergent thinking increases by up to 80 percent as you walk, according to research from Stanford University, because thoughts wander aimlessly and new associations of ideas are more likely.

The brain benefits from walking, confirms Gianfranco Beltrami, professor in Exercise Sciences at the University of Parma and member of the board of directors of the Italian Sports Medicine Federation (FMSI). For example, it increases the production of endorphins, which improve mental well-being, promote sociality, decrease anxiety and stress. It takes ten minutes on foot to have the same effect on good mood as a 45-minute workout in the gym, and if the walk takes place in the green, well-being is guaranteed: according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the brain activity in areas associated with negative emotions and decreases rumination, that attitude whereby thoughts circulate on negative elements of oneself in one’s life. Walking is a kind of positive bath: afterwards you feel more serene, optimistic and even more self-confident. Psychological effects that have a well-documented physical correlation: for example, it has been seen that literally at every step, thanks to the impact with the ground, there are pressure waves that increase the blood flow to the brain, a little less than running but more in comparison to non-grounded activities such as swimming or cycling.

The result is not just an improvement in mood but also a protective effect on memory and age-related cognitive impairment: it is no coincidence that the walking dose was directly related to the volume of brain gray matter, especially in areas such as the hippocampus, connected to memory and learning. And if on the brain the benefits of daily steps are now evident, on the body they are perhaps even more so as Beltrami explains: Walking is a low-impact aerobic exercise, with advantages on all organs and systems: at the cardiovascular level, for example, they are reduced. blood pressure and blood fats, from cholesterol to triglycerides; heart rate decreases and overall there is a noticeable protective effect on the heart and vessels.

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You can continue reading the article in Corriere Salute on newsstands for free on Thursday 25 November or in Pdf in the Digital Edition of Corriere della Sera.

November 23, 2021 (change November 23, 2021 | 19:16)