When it comes to fitness, everyone always wants to know how many times a week they should exercise in order to stay healthy. And while the answer can vary depending on your personal needs and goals, it’s always useful to consider expert advice.
According to a recent meta-study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh (opens in new tab), exercising three times a week can help preserve your memory in late adulthood.
As specified in the medical paper, the researchers examined adults 55 years or older by analyzing data from 2,750 participants collected from 36 different trials.
The study focused on the term called episodic memory, which refers to how well you can recall past personal events and experiences. Researchers suggest that episodic memory is one of the first things to deteriorate with older age.
It was found that people who exercised consistently for 15 to 50 minutes three times a week over a period of four to nine months had better episodic memory than those who didn’t.
But even though the study focused on older participants doesn’t mean that those under the age of 50 shouldn’t exercise to preserve their memory. “Although we cannot speculate about the benefits of exercise on memory in younger people, exercise at any age is never a bad thing”, PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh Sarah Aghjayan told the i (opens in new tab).
The study also suggests that implementing exercise as early as possible is more beneficial: “There were greater improvements in memory among those who are aged 55 to 68 years old compared to those who are 69 to 85 years old.”
Researchers said that in order to reap benefits, your exercise regime could be as simple as a regular aerobic workout such as jogging, brisk walking or even dancing. Though it should be noted that the study didn’t examine those who suffer from dementia or have participated in strength training or cognitive exercises, since this could have interfered with the results.
While the majority of participants examined in the study were female (66%), there’s not enough evidence to suggest that episodic memory improved more in women than in men. Interestingly, though, individual trials that had more women than men still showed slightly more positive results.
According to Aghjayan, the duration of exercise doesn’t seem to matter as much as the frequency, as long as it’s regular. “You just need a good pair of walking shoes, and you can get out there and move your body,” she said.
Of course, there’s plenty more good reasons to exercise regularly, from mental health benefits, confidence boosting and simply keeping fit. But whatever your goals are, the key to getting results is consistency, so make sure to stick with your schedule.