Waukee, and the Greater Des Moines Metro area in general, are great places to live if you want to walk, run, or bike your way around. And that’s good news for the wellbeing of folks who live around here. Everyone knows that exercise can lift your spirits and help you to maintain a healthy weight—but did you know that exercise helps improve brain function as well?
Trainer and consultant Christy Matta, writing for Psych Central, explains that scientific research has found that exercise can increase mental acuity in individuals of all ages—from high school students to elderly people suffering from dementia. This is wonderful, you may be thinking, but how can jogging around the block actually help with problem-solving skills?
In an article published last October on Psychology Today’s website, endurance athlete and author Christopher Bergland reports that scientists have recently uncovered part of the mystery as to why exercise improves brain power: during exercise, the brain produces a molecule called irisin that is believed to have neuroprotective effects. Raising the level of irisin in the brain leads to the production of new neurons and the activation of genes involved in cognition.
Whew, That’s a lot to process! Maybe a quick run will help you wrap your mind around it.
When it comes to exercise, Waukee residents have shown a community interest in the benefits of physical activity. As showcased earlier this year in myWaukee, the first-ever BACooN RIDE started and ended in Waukee and allowed participants to enjoy riding 71 miles on the Raccoon River Valley trail. The event proved to be wildly popular, which was perhaps not too surprising in a state that also hosts the massive RAGBRAI (“Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across America”) each year. The BACooN RIDE’s website, bacoonride.com, is already advertising next year’s event: “BACooN RIDE Too: A Second Helpin’.”
But Waukee isn’t limited to bicycling enthusiasts alone. On any given Saturday morning—weather permitting—you’ll find walkers, runners, and cyclists of all ages making their way along the Heart of the Warrior Trail or the paths that wind around Waukee’s school system and through Centennial Park. And for those walkers who want to show support for a healthier Iowa, Waukee’s Hy-Vee dietitians are hosting the local (and free!) Healthiest State Initiative 1K Walk next week, on Wednesday October 12th from 12:00-1:00pm. The walk is part of a statewide effort to make Iowa the healthiest state in America by 2016.