A new study in the Frontiers in Neuroscience journal found that walking and conducting load-bearing exercise drastically impacts a person’s brain and nervous system function. “Our study supports the notion that people who are unable to do load-bearing exercises —such as patients who are bed-ridden, or even astronauts on extended travel— not only lose muscle mass, but their body chemistry is altered at the cellular level and even their nervous system is adversely impacted,” says Dr. Raffaella Adami.
The findings aren’t just applicable to those who are injured or disabled— they also impact individuals who lead mostly sedentary lifestyles. The research reveals that walking, and other weighted leg exercises, sends signals to the brain that lead to the production of healthy neural cells, which are essential for the brain and the nervous system to function. Lack of exercise leads to the reduced production of vital nerve cells and restricts the amount of oxygen flowing through the body.
“It is no accident that we are meant to be active: to walk, run, crouch to sit, and use our leg muscles to lift things,” says Adami. The findings support the notion that exercising vigorously two or three times a week, and walking for 20-30 minutes daily are core components to good health.