Exercise and pulse for memory and heart health

January 12, 2010 3:28:07 PM PST
From avoiding heart attacks to helping keep your mind lucid and clear, there are easy steps that you can do at home. Exercise isn't the fountain of youth, but it may be as close as we can get. That's in the two new reports, which say exercise will keep your brain younger and may prevent your early death.

Sixty-two-year-old Robin Feigenbaum doesn't workout every day, only six days a week.

"I take classes here, aerobics weights, stretching," she said. "I also do the machines, the elliptical, the arc trainer and the bike."

That sweating may help Robin's memory too. One of the new studies found just moderate exercise - brisk walking, yoga, swimming - can protect memory in 80-year-old individuals.

Intense exercise, an aerobics class or running, may actually improve memory. Mirabai Holland teaches aerobics at the 92nd Street Y.

"In many years of teaching exercise, I have people come up to me and tell me that their memory is actually getting better," Holland said.

Resting pulse rate was the focus of the second study.

Taking your pulse by putting your fingers on your wrist, just outside the tendon, and counting beats per minute may have something to do with how long you're going to live.

Resting pulse is about 72 beats per minute, a bit higher in women. The study shows that the lower your pulse rate, the lower your risk of death, especially from a heart attack. And what better way to reduce your pulse rate than by exercise?

"Before marathons, my resting pulse was in the 80s," runner Alison Denoia said. "Now that I'm running marathons, my pulse rate is in the 60s or lower."

But you don't have to run marathons. Regular exercise will make your heart more efficient, so it doesn't have to beat as fast.

The 92nd Street Y is holding an open house, and you can try any of 30 fitness activities free Tuesday evening up until 10 p.m. CLICK HERE for more on the Y's open house.