By now, we are all aware that eating well and working out are key components to living a long, healthy life. But figuring out exactly what that means – especially with headlines like eggs are good for you, just kidding eggs are bad for you popping up every day – can be a difficult task. But, it appears that scientists have finally nailed down the exercise portion of our healthy living equation.
According to new research published in The Journal of Physiology, it all comes down to a consistent routine of working out for 30 minutes, four or five days a week.
The team of researchers who collaborated on the research – including scientists from the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, the John Peter Smith Health Network, Texas Christian University, and University of North Texas Health Science Center – came to their conclusion after analyzing 102 people aged 60 years old and older. Those people were grouped into four categories: sedentary (those who performed fewer than two 30-minute exercise sessions per week for the past 25 years); casual (those who performed two to three sessions per week in the same time frame); true exercisers (those who performed four to five sessions a week); and master athletes (those who performed six to seven workouts per week).
Next, the team looked at the participant’s arteries, specifically measuring the stiffness in their arteries, with stiff arteries being a major precursor to heart disease.
The team found that casual exercise – working out just a few days a week – was enough to keep middle-sized arteries healthful. Those arteries, Newsweek explained, are the ones that supply blood to the head and neck. However, working out four to five days a week also helped large central arteries, those that supply blood to the chest and abdomen, even more.
And though the team didn’t study what exercises people should be performing exactly, they say this study can help create programs for people to live a more healthful existence.
"This work is really exciting because it enables us to develop exercise programs to keep the heart youthful and even turn back time on older hearts and blood vessels," Benjamin Levine, one of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine in Dallas authors, shared in a statement with Newsweek.
But, even if you can get out of the house for a quick walk with your dog two or three days a week, the researchers say that’s OK too. As Maureen Talbot, senior cardiac nurse at the charity the British Heart Foundation, additionally told Newsweek: “Just a little exercise is better than none. The important thing is to find a form of exercise you enjoy, so that you make time for it in your weekly routine."