Most of my co-workers know I walk. I can tell they think I’m crazy, especially in the winter months, by the concern in their voice when they ask, "Do you want a ride?" They are very sweet.

Most of my co-workers know I walk. I can tell they think I’m crazy, especially in the winter months, by the concern in their voice when they ask, “Do you want a ride?” They are very sweet.

However I am not concerned for myself. The cold quickly wears off once you’re moving and soon the atmosphere sets in. What exactly happens to your brain once you’re walking? The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a study indicating the size of the hippocampus increases during exercise. “Aerobic exercise training is effective at reversing hippocampal volume loss in late adulthood, which is accompanied by improved memory function,” the study said. The study also suggested that dementia and Alzheimer’s could be staved off by regular exercise.

I think everyone knows the obvious benefits of exercise: the pleasure hormones, endorphins, kick into action; new neuronal connections are made. But I think few know how little you need to do to benefit. “You get prolonged life, reduced disease risk — all those things come in the first 20 minutes of being active,” explains New York Times health columnist Gretchen Reynolds.

While that is good news, one difficulty in walking is battling the hazards of traffic. The idea of crossing busy intersections frightens many. Walking may frighten some off, but the Pedestrian and Bike Information Center states that deaths by vehicle and poor diet and physical inactivity dwarf those of pedestrian fatalities. In 2010, 4,280 pedestrians died, compared to the 32,000 for vehicle passengers and 65,000 health-related deaths.

Fortunately we live in a city where traffic is low compared to Dallas. The hardest part about walking isn’t the cars; it’s the distance. The walk to the supermarket is impractical, but maybe there are small things to walk to, like church or a park or even school if you’re lucky. I started out that way and now I’m walking three miles back and forth to work everyday. It’s a hefty walk but I barely notice it, and I feel like people notice me. The safety for pedestrians comes in numbers: The more we are on the street the safer the street becomes — one step at a time.•

Happy birthday Thursday to Barbara Carroll and Ronnie Kelly, both of Denison; Luleen Smith, Be’ Anna Evans, Patricia Williams, Ronnie Leach, David Van Horn and Anita Ware, all of Sherman; Byron Glenn Goodrum of Houston; Andrew Whitecotton of McKinney; Laura Dolezalek of Collinsville.

Happy anniversary Thursday to Roy and Mick Barker of Sherman, 71 years; Ned and Connie Culp of Howe, 54 years; Louis and Sherry Jackson of Denison, 32 years.