By: Chris Cooper, Wellness Director
We have all heard the benefits of exercise either from our doctors or in literature. Usually it is in reference to aerobic exercise, such as walking or biking, because of its cardiovascular-enhancing benefit as well as its ability to decrease risk for disease and increase weight loss. It is the go-to prescription for health enhancement at any age.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society concluded that weekly resistance training sessions not only resulted in strength gains but also significant improvements in cognitive function in older adults who presented with mild cognitive impairment. 1
Simply put, resistance-training exercises are proving to be a powerful tool for enhancing brain function as well as resulting in stronger bones and muscles.
This is not the first study to show the cognitive benefits of exercise. However, this particular study differs in that the researchers set out to determine if the cognitive improvements were a result of enhanced cardiovascular capacity or enhanced muscular strength. Participants performed 2-3 strength training sessions per week along with aerobic exercise and were regularly tested on cognitive ability. At the end of the study, only the persons with enhanced strength gains were associated with improvements in cognition. This illustrates that maintaining/improving muscle strength contributes to brain health as well.
If you are interested in reading this complete study and learning the mechanisms for these gains, please see the reference below:
1) Mavros Y, Gates N, Wilson GC, et al. Mediation of Cognitive Function Improvements by Strength Gains After Resistance Training in Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment: Outcomes of the Study of Mental and Resistance Training. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2016.