Walking to Improve Concentration

Want to know an  easy way to improve concentration? What if you could improve concentration, focus, and cognitive function by performing a simple action a couple times a week?

According to researchers from the Frontiers of Aging Neuroscience at the University of Illinois:

Walking at one’s own pace for 40 minutes three times a week – can enhance the connectivity of important brain circuits, combat declines in brain function associated with aging and increase performance on cognitive tasks. Source

This study tracked older adults over the period of one year, comparing moderately active adults to their sedentary peers. Unsurprisingly, the more active participants performed better on cognitive tasks. It’s safe to say that the ability to concentrate is directly related to cognitive function.

The best part about using walking to improve concentration? Walking is free. You don’t need any special training or equipment. Besides that, it doesn’t require you learn any special techniques or tricks. Put one foot in front of other a few times a week, and you’ll probably experience improvements in your ability to concentrate and focus. Your only cost is in time, and I suspect that performance improvements due to walking will end up saving you time over the long term.

My Own Experience

Though my wife might tell you otherwise, I try and use my brain everyday. For me, taking a walk is like adding oil to an engine. All the parts simply work better.

My own unempirical experience confirms this. No matter what task I’m working on, I perform that task much better when I walk a few miles a week. Even a quick hike up the hill and back, improves my concentration. The days I don’t get out for a walk are the days I’m much more susceptible to descending into a labyrinth of procrastination-filled, distraction-laden rabbit holes.

“Of all exercises walking is the best.” Thomas Jefferson

How to Get Started

You put one foot in front of the other. Just kidding, but not really.

If you’re having trouble concentrating or frequently losing focus, try taking a short (20-30 minute) walk. Just once. No commitment. No long-term goals. See if you feel better. If so, great. If not, what have you lost? Nothing. And even if you don’t receive an immediate improvement in concentration, mountains of research state that walking will improve your overall health.

People who drive to a job and work at a desk work should find walking particularly beneficial. Our bodies are made to walk, not to sit in chairs, push pedals, and gaze at screens.

Depending on where you live, developing the walking habit should be no harder than putting on a comfortable pair of shoes and stepping out the door. You don’t need weights, headphones, or arm bands. All you have to do is step out the door and put in the time. Just watch out for cars.

If you’re new to walking, check out this walking schedule from the Mayo Clinic.

Over to You:

  • Is walking a part of your daily routine?
  • How far do you walk everyday?
  • Do you live in a walkable area or community?
  • After reading, did you take a walk? Do you think your concentration levels improved?

Photo credit: marfis75moogan

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