The link between aerobic exercise and memory you need to know
The researchers sought to find a non-pharmaceutical approach to improving episodic memory in late adulthood – and although their meta-analysis, which looked at 36 studies with 2,750 participants, was by no means conclusive, the study authors found that aerobic exercise positively influences episodic memory.
Luckily for anyone excited about these discoveries, it’s simple to start incorporating aerobics into your daily sweat routine, says Cat Kom, CEO and Founder of Studio SWEAT onDemand. “Aerobic exercise means you move your body, breathe faster, increase blood flow, and increase your heart rate by about 50-85% of your maximum heart rate (MHR),” she says. . “It’s an activity that you can maintain for longer periods of time.” (Think: jogging, swimming, or indoor cycling.)
Aerobic exercise is the opposite of anaerobic exercise, which is when you work out with an oxygen deficit, which means your body can fuel your effort with oxygen alone and must switch to room to draw on stored energy fuel reserves. “Anaerobic exercise generally involves shorter, more intense activities that cause you to work at more than 80% or 90% of your MHR. True anaerobic activity can usually only be sustained for short bursts of less than 60 seconds. If you’ve ever done a workout where during games where you were only breathing through your mouth and struggling to catch your breath, you know what that feels like,” says Kom. Anaerobic activities include high-speed interval training. intensity (HIIT), sprinting or weightlifting.
Both types of exercise have their place in a well-rounded movement routine, but for episodic memory reasons, aerobic exercise reigns supreme. And speaking of the benefits of long, sustained movement patterns, Kom is quick to point out that better memory is just one of the crown jewels of aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise also produces feel-good endorphins, protects your immune system, lowers high blood pressure, and more. Ready to enjoy these benefits for yourself? Below, Kom offers an aerobic interval training and daily walking program to help you start making aerobic progress. (Bonus: you don’t need any equipment.)
Kom’s 30-Minute Aerobic Interval Training Workout, Bodyweight Only
Perform each exercise for 30 seconds in a three-minute round. Rest for 30 to 60 seconds between each round. Try this workout three times a week to start, incorporating strength training daily.
1. Jumping Jacks: Come and stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Jump your legs as you bring your arms above your head so that your body is in an X shape. Bring your legs and arms together and repeat until time runs out.
2. Burpees: From a standing position, lower yourself into a squat. Bring your hands to the floor and jump on a board. From this position, perform a push-up (possibility of going down to the knees). Jump your feet forward into your squat, then rise to a standing position. To modify, step your feet forward and back one at a time instead of jumping in and out of your planks, and simply press through your heels to stand up.
3. Squat Jumps: Stand your feet hip-width apart and squat down, bringing your hands in front of your chest. Explode upwards in the air, straighten your legs and swing your arms along your sides. Land softly into a squat and repeat.
4. Skate jumps: Stand upright with your feet together. Pour your weight over your left foot and step your right foot out to the right, landing with the knee bent and the left foot in the air, then push off with the right foot to jump to the side and land on the left – swing the arms towards the landing leg for momentum. Keep jumping back and forth until the time is up.
5. Deck Jacks: Come plank. Pull the belly button towards the spine and jump your feet out from your hips, doing your best to keep your hips level as you do this. Bring your legs together and continue for 30 seconds.
6. High knees: Come up. Bring your right leg back so it’s parallel to your hip bone. Lower it and quickly repeat with the left. Pick up the pace without breaking your form.
Kom’s weekly walking schedule that combines anaerobic and aerobic activity
“Walking is a great low-impact cardio workout that you can do literally anywhere and is suitable for all fitness levels,” says Kom. “Below is a seven-day walking program that you can add to your fitness routine. Rate the intensity level of this workout on a scale of one to ten RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion):
- 0 to 1: very light – feeling like nothing at all
- 2 to 3: Light — feels like you can be active for hours and hold a full conversation
- 4 to 5: Moderate to light work; you feel like you can last for hours, you can say full sentences
- 6 to 7: Moderate to difficult – you feel like you can sustain the effort for an hour or two; you are breathing heavily, but can still say a full sentence
- 8 to 9: Difficult to very difficult – work is uncomfortable
- 10: Very, very hard – maximum work, can only sustain this effort for a few seconds
Day 1: Low Intensity Steady State Walking (LISS) — 20 minutes
Moderate effort (four to five RPE) on flat road
As you progress:
- Add more than 5 minutes each week.
- Once you can walk for an hour straight, pick up the pace.
Day 2: Walking at brisk intervals — 23 minutes
- Three minute walk, four to five RPE
- 30 seconds of brisk walking, eight to nine RPE
- One minute brisk walk, six to seven RPE
Repeat five times
As you progress:
- Add one minute to interval one
- Add 30 seconds to interval two
- Add 30 seconds to interval three
Day 3: Incline Intervals (for treadmill or if you have access to a steep incline)
- Two minutes of flat walking at a moderate pace, four to five RPE
- Two minutes of walking uphill at a brisk pace, six to seven RPE
Repeat five times
As you progress:
- Add time to walking flat or downhill one or more minutes.
- Add hill intensity by one or two on the slope
Day 4: Rest
Rest! Yes, rest. Rest is an important part of physical fitness. You can do active rest by doing light yoga, stretching, or foam rolling,” says Kom.
Day 5: LISS
Repeat the first day.
Day 6: Walking at fast intervals
Repeat on the second day.
Day 7: Hill Intervals
Repeat on the third day.
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