Graphic: Your Brain on Walking

This is the graphic I showed attendees of the Every Body Walk Partners event at the Center for Total Health (@kptotalhealth) yesterday:

This is what happens to your brain when you walk. Your middle frontal gyrus and superior parietal lobule activate, which in turn deactivate the anterior cingulate cortex, which is highly interconnected with the emotional and error-management portions of your brain. The result? You can selectively process information in your environment, manage yourself, and complex tasks better.

In plain language, I would quote Janet Wright, MD, from The Million Hearts campaign, when she told me, “my brain quits working when I stop walking.” (See: Walking Podcast! Janet Wright, MD, for Million Hearts: “systematic care, put in place, works like a charm” | Ted Eytan, MD)Interestingly, several speakers made similar statements throughout the day when they talked about walking – they made various statements about how it changed the way their brains worked before even seeing this graphic.

I used the graphic to reinforce visually the power of the walking meeting. If you think that they allow you to have better conversations, react better to challenging conversations, manage yourself and your ability to complete complex tasks, you’re right. 🙂

Source: Hillman CH, Erickson KI, Kramer AF. Be smart, exercise your heart: exercise effects on brain and cognition. Nature Reviews. Neuroscience. 2008;9(1):58–65

See a longer post of mine about this: Now Reading: Walking not only rearranges your neurochemistry (I knew it), it grows your brain | Ted Eytan, MD

The walking meeting itself that followed this graphic sharing was a huge success. Photos of that coming soon.

I prefaced my comments by asking if there was a neurobiologist in the room. I should probably do that here as well – if there is a neurobiologist in the room that sees this and thinks I’ve gotten it all wrong, feel free to add your thoughts to the comments and forgive me for doing my best as a simple family doctor from Arizona.


Ted Eytan, MD