Thomas G. Plante Ph.D., ABPP

Do the Right Thing

Does Walking Make You Smart? Yes, and In More Ways Than You Think

Walking is a win-win for psychological, cognitive, and physical health

Posted Feb 28, 2012

Regular physical exercise such as walking has been demonstrated to help improve both mental and physical health. Certainly the many physical health benefits of regular exercise are well known and researched. Improvements in cardiovascular functioning, weight loss, metabolism, and so forth can be expected with ongoing regular exercise. Psychological and mental health benefits are well known too. Research consistently has found that regular exercise lowers anxiety, depression, and stress and improves well-being and self-esteem. Additionally, cognitive benefits including improved attention, concentration, and problem solving can be found among exercisers too.

Many may not take the time, energy, and money to join a health club or gym or perhaps participate in exercise activities that are harder to accomplish such as swimming, tennis, racket ball, biking, and the like. Many sports are skill based, prone to injury, and cost a lot of money to do (e.g. sailing, golf, polo).  Walking is perfect since you can do it anywhere and at any time and it is free with no special skill or expensive equipment needed. Just a decent pair of walking shoes and you are good to go. Most of us can and do walk and must find a way to make that happen at levels that provide us with the many mental and physical health benefits associated with exercise.

While accumulating steps you'll likely notice that your thinking is clearer, you are more attentive, happier, and you'll lose some weight and feel more toned. It is all a win-win.

So, does walking make you smarter? You betcha and in many more ways than you might think.