By Ken Reed
I was once told about some study that says simply by standing up — instead of sitting — you are eight percent smarter. And if you are walking vs. sitting you’re smarter yet. I never tracked down the study to examine the methodology, etc., but it intuitively made sense to me.
For a long time, I’ve gone on walks when something was bothering me, when stricken with “writer’s block,” or if I was working on an important project and needed to come up with some type of solution. I’ve long been an advocate for walking and believe when it comes to walking we can all be athletes, regardless of athletic ability.
So, I was excited to read an article entitled, “Why Walking Helps Us Think” in The New Yorker by Ferris Jabr.
Jabr succinctly summarizes the benefits of walking:
“When we go for a walk, the heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen not just to the muscles but to all the organs—including the brain. Many experiments have shown that after or during exercise, even very mild exertion, people perform better on tests of memory and attention. Walking on a regular basis also promotes new connections between brain cells, staves off the usual withering of brain tissue that comes with age, increases the volume of the hippocampus (a brain region crucial for memory), and elevates levels of molecules that both stimulate the growth of new neurons and transmit messages between them.”
For some reason, people — even some psychiatrists and psychologists — tend to separate the brain from the body. School boards drop physical education classes and recess for more seat time in a misguided effort to improve test scores. If educators want students to perform better on standardized tests, or other intellectual challenges, the best thing they could do would be to send the students outside for a 20-minute walk (or jog) around the school building.
Jabr’s article reviews some recent, and not so recent, studies on the benefits of walking — especially in nature — for the brain. Jabr’s focus in this piece is on walking’s benefits for creative pursuits like writing. But the research supports using walking to spur productive thinking in any pursuit.
So, the next time you have an important phone call, one in which you have to be at your sharpest — no matter the subject — get up from that office chair and start walking (or at least standing). There’s a good chance you’ll be more productive on the phone call and feel better physically and mentally when the call is over.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site. We discuss his experience at the MLB game at Field of Dreams; his thoughts on the appeal of the Field of Dreams, and baseball in general.
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Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
Episode #11 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Latest on Brain Trauma, Concussions and CTE with Dr. Chris Nowinski – Nowinski is CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO.
Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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