heart health, and impact your body weight, and all of these factors have an impact on brain and memory,” Aghjayan explains.
Exercise has shown promise in increasing brain health as people age, but when it comes to memory, studies have been mixed until now, she notes.
For this latest study, Aghjayan and her colleagues reviewed 36 studies including 2,750 people (average age 71) who exercised for about 15 to 90 minutes three times a week for 18 to 39 weeks. Folks aged 55 to 68 showed the greatest improvements in memory when they exercised, the findings showed.
Tips for getting started
Still, some questions remain. “We don’t know what intensity is needed to see these benefits,” Aghjayan says.
Always get a green light from your doctor before embarking on a new exercise plan, and try to find something you enjoy doing so you will be more likely to stick with it, she advises.
“Our study looked at walking, dancing and swimming, but choose anything that piques and holds your interest, and choose something that a friend would want to do with you,” Aghjayan suggests.
“What’s good for your heart is good for your brain,” says Dr. Laura DeFina, president and chief executive officer of The Cooper Institute, in Dallas.
It’s never too late to start exercising, DeFina adds.
“If you are older than 50, you do want your doctor’s approval if you are a complete non-exerciser or couch potato,” she says.
The amount of exercise that most people in the new study reported falls just short of the current exercise guidelines, which call for at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes a week of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes to 150 minutes a week of vigorous exercise per week, she notes. But “anything is better than nothing, and all movement counts,” DeFina concludes.