Two new studies spell out benefits for people recovering from in strokes as well as for those 50 and older. Sure, we knew about the improvements it can provide to aerobic capacity, not to mention muscles and joints, but two recently released studies show that walking can enhance brain function too.
Walking or other repetitive exercise can change the brain in a number of ways, says Dr. Gary Small, professor of psychiatry and aging at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. The heart pumps more blood, affecting not only muscles but also the brain. "Your brain needs blood, because in the blood are nutrients and oxygen, which are good for the cells and will make the brain healthier," he says. "The vessels that deliver the nutrients also branch out and become more effective."