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Walking Backwards May be Good for Your Brain

Woman jeans and sneaker shoesTis true.. Walking backwards may be good for your brain.  This is because it fits the criteria of a neurobic activity.  And remember, neurobic activities can causes new neural connections to grow in your brain – and that’s a good thing!

In order for an activity to be neurobic it must have one or more of the following going for it:

1) Involve one or more of your senses in a novel context.
2) Engage your attention.
3) Break a routine activity in an unexpected, novel way

I’d say walking or running backwards fits the neurobic criteria quite well.

Exercising backwards is also called retro-exercise. Retro-running has been popular for many years in Europe. In fact, they have races which vary from sprints to the 26.2-mile marathon. Additionally, I have personally witnessed numerous people walking backwards as a form of exercise in public parks in China.

Here are a few of the many benefits of walking or running backwards:

  • Running backwards burns a fifth more calories than traditional jogging
  • 100 steps backward walking is equivalent to 1,000 steps conventional walking.
  • Your balance increases
  • Your hearing increases
  • Your peripheral vision increases
  • Helps people recover from knee-joint surgery and injuries ranging from the ankle to the groin
  • Your tummy becomes your back and creates a nice reaction for your abdominals
  • An athlete who can walk forward at a given pace that enables his heart rate to rise to 106 bpm will see it soar to 156 bpm while walking backward at the same pace.
  • Running forward at a 10-minute mile pace may raise the heart rate to 151 bpm, while running backwards at the same speed raises it to 174 bpm.

The drawback, of course, is a lack of hindsight.  Because of this it’s recommended that newcomers to backward walking or running do it gradually on a flat track or treadmill to avoid potholes, signs, cars and other hazards.


Additional Resource:

Keep Your Brain Alive: 83 Neurobic Exercises

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