Jean Jacques Rousseau, the eighteenth century philosopher, educationalist and author of “Émile", claimed: “For the mind's sake, it's necessary to exercise the body." Thomas Jefferson, who drafted the revolutionary American Declaration of Independence and became the third President of the United States, used walking to relax and to stimulate his thinking. Michael Gelb, who writes about revolutionary minds throughout history, explains that Jefferson practised solvitas perambulatorum – the process of solving problems during exercise.
Charles Darwin was known to walk repeatedly around a track outside his study. He placed a stone upon a pile each time he passed a certain place on the track and the size of the pile of stones signified the size of the problem Darwin grappled with as he walked. These historical figures, renowned for their intellectual abilities and considerable achievements, understood the role of exercise in stimulating thinking.
More recently, research has demonstrated the benefits of exercise upon cognitive function. Psychiatrist John Ratey, author of “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain," claims that exercise improves an individual's mental health, well-being and happiness as well as improving cognitive function. Aerobic exercise improves mood while improving cognitive processes, memory function and creativity.
Neuroscientist Carl Cotman from the University of California, identified that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that helps build and maintain the cell circuitry in the brain, is elevated by exercise. Other studieshave demonstrated endorphins and dopamine, the “feel good" biochemicals released by the brain during exercise, help to alleviate stress, anxiety and depression while improving mood. Exercise improves cardiovascular fitness and blood flow to the brain, building memory, ensuring optimal levels of focus and concentration. Exercise provides a free, effective and accessible way to improve cognitive function and acts to protect against the development of mood disorders.
Walking at a brisk pace for 30 – 40 minutes three times a week is sufficient to have a positive impact. Morning exercise increases alertness and improves mood, establishing a positive foundation for meeting the challenges of the day. Students who walk to school or for some distance to access public transport improve their physical as well as their cognitive health, fitness and overall well-being. Exercise provides cognitive benefits and has a significant role to play in helping students and adults perform at their best. It seems that solvitas perambulatorum allows individuals to prevent as well as solve several problems.
Michele Juratowitch ©