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How Does Walking Improve Mood and Brain Health?

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana chat about how exercise and High Intensity Training shape thinking and can lengthen life span. Dr. Amen also reminds listeners about the correlation between certain bacteria and mental illnesses.


Daniel Amen, MD:

Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And I’m Tana Amen.

In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.

Daniel Amen, MD:

The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is brought to you by Amen clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain for more information, visit amenclinics.com.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Welcome back. Today, we’re going to do brain in the news and talk more about COVID bad habits. And one of them is being sedentary. Glued to the TV and not getting outside so your vitamin D level goes down and not exercising. Well a brand new study came out that actually showed brisk walking, improves brain health and thinking and helps with memory. So, according to a year long study of people who had mild cognitive impairment, so they’re already struggling in the study, middle-aged and older people with early signs of memory loss, raise their cognitive stores after they started walking five times a week.

Regular exercise also amplified healthy blood flow to their brains. The changes in their brains and minds were consequential, the study concludes. And could have implications, not just for those with serious memory problems, but for any of us whose memories are starting to fade. And, there’s another interesting study that shows if you walk, if you’re 80 and you walk three miles an hour, you have a 90% chance of living until you’re 90. But, if you’re 80 and you’re only walking a mile an hour, you have 90% chance you are not going to live until you’re 90. So, I often say walk like you’re late.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

That’s funny though, I think it’s important to know because, that’s fine. Walking for me is nice, but I know my brain, I need intensity. To feel normal, I need more head type training. So that bursting type training. So, it’s important to know that, because my mood changes almost instantly.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And, head or high intensity training has actually been shown to do so many good things for your brain and body. And so if you’re a walker, a walker and a ping pong player, if you’re a walker, walk as fast as you can for 30 to 60 seconds and then go back to a normal pace, but a normal fast.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Or sprint if you can, and then stop.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And, we’ve been going to the gym, morning, three days a week.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Right.

Daniel Amen, MD:

You’ve been torturing me. Feeling muscles I haven’t felt in decades.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

It’s so good for you. I want to keep you around with me.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Well, that’s good to know.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Yeah.

Daniel Amen, MD:

I wasn’t sure after the first couple of times, if you were trying to kill me or not. Like, “I wonder if she’s trying to get rid of you?” She’s sane, she’s trying to [inaudible [00:03:53] you around.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

He’s trying to sit down. He’s like, “My butt hurts so bad.”

Daniel Amen, MD:

So, doing all of these squats and.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

It’s good. And then I do jump rope in between or burpees or something like that to keep the heart rate up.

Daniel Amen, MD:

So, move. I mean, we say this over and over again, Brain Warriors are fit. And, it’s not my natural tendency. My dad always hated when I said I come from a family of fat people. I have a brother and sister, both hundred and 50 pounds overweight. I nudge them and nudge them. And then I went, “Wait a minute. I care more about this than you do.” Which is not good. But, I have the genetic vulnerability and I look at a piece of cake and gain a pound. So, I have to be really intentional.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And, for me it’s more than about weight it’s I don’t feel normal. I just don’t feel right if I don’t exercise. My mood immediately starts to… I just get brain fog. I feel more negative. I’m not as happy.

Daniel Amen, MD:

There’s just so many benefits to this. The next study we want to talk about is really important. Bartonella, which is one of the Lyme co-infections is linked to schizophrenia.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Oh, wow.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Of 17 patients with schizophrenia, 12 had Bartonella DNA-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Wow.

Daniel Amen, MD:

-In their blood compared to only one of 13 in a control group. According to the questionnaires both patient and controls reported similar pet ownership and flea exposure because that transmits Bartonella as does ticks, can also do.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

[crosstalk [00:05:46].

Daniel Amen, MD:

But, it’s this idea that if you’re experiencing a psychotic thought process, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, a brief psychotic episode, somebody should look at your brain because if you don’t look, you don’t know. I say that all the time. If you don’t look, you don’t know. And, it’s just critical to go “Why?” Not to go “Oh, you have schizophrenia.” Schizophrenia tells you what it is. It doesn’t tell you what causes it.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Right.

Daniel Amen, MD:

It’s like depression tells you what it is, but it doesn’t tell you what causes it.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Exactly.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And if you don’t know the cause, then you can properly treat it. And I that’s why people often feel hopeless when someone gets diagnosed with schizophrenia, it’s, “Oh, they’re going to have this the rest of their life.” But, you don’t know what’s causing it and that is critical. If you take a map of the United States and you look at the highest incidents of schizophrenia.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

It’s almost identical.

Daniel Amen, MD:

It’s the North, the Northeast, the North Midwest and the West coast. And then you look at the highest incidents of [inaudible [00:07:11].

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

They almost overlap purposefully.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Almost identical.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Yeah.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And, so it just means somebody should lock and evaluate you to see whether or not you’ve had an infectious process in the brain. Another thing in the news has been these mass shootings, Atlanta, Boulder, Colorado, and then just recently in Orange, not very far from our house. And, there was an editorial in USA Today that basically said mental illness has nothing to do.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

How would you possibly say that?

Daniel Amen, MD:

And, it just blows me away.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I mean, anybody who does something like that.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Anybody who does anybody who does something like that has a brain and a mind that is clearly not working right. And of course, there’s always an element of choice. I used to think free will was black or white. We either had it or you didn’t. But, when you look at the scans that we have, it’s gray. Most of us I think have about 80% free will give you a six pack of Michelob and you have 50%.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Give you some meth and…

Daniel Amen, MD:

But, if you’re starting with a troubled brain and then give somebody meth or alcohol or other things, they don’t have much.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And, let’s be clear. That does not mean that they should have an excuse to go… That is not.

Daniel Amen, MD:

They don’t get to go home.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

No.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Right? Because-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I’m huge on accountability. You need to protect the innocent.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Well, we need to protect our society.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Right.

Daniel Amen, MD:

First. That’s primary. But, if they acted badly because of a damaged organ, most people go to jail, go home. So wouldn’t we want to rehabilitate the organ of behavior, which is the brain. So I think both of us really, we agree that the number one thing to do is protect the innocent.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Absolutely.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And, protect society. But, we should also be evaluating and treating the people who do bad things, because most people go to jail to home. And if you can decrease recidinism, then you’re making a positive impact on our society. So, with that in the next episode, we’re going to answer some of your questions, stay with us.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

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Daniel Amen, MD:

If you’re interested in coming to Amen clinics, use the code PODCAST10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at amenclinics.com for more information, give us a call at (855) 978-1363.