New research in the Archives of Internal Medicine finds that elderly women who are experiencing the beginnings of memory decline may ward off full-blown dementia by doing some regular strength training. One of the benefits of strength training for seniors appears to be the boosting of mental functioning in those who had some memory loss, while aerobics-based exercises didn’t give the same benefits to the brain.
For elderly people, mild cognitive impairment is considered to be an indicator of a future dementia risk. Everyone agrees that dementia is a major public health concern for an aging population, as well as a devastating illness that carries this astonishing statistic. A new case of dementia is diagnosed someplace around the world every 7 seconds.
Earlier work on the brain and exercise has examined aerobic exercises; this research was the first to compare both aerobic and strength training workouts.
Teresa Liu-Ambrose, an assistant professor in the department of physical therapy at the University of British Columbia who led the study said the results show that strength training, not aerobics, has benefits for thinking. She and her team focused on 86 female subjects who were 70 to 80 years old, who had mentioned memory problems and were thought to have probable mild cognitive impairment.
For the six months of study the subjects participated in one-hour classes two times per week. One third of them were assigned to a strength-training program, one third walked outside as part of an aerobics program and one third took basic balance and toning classes.
The program also called for the participants (77 completed the study) to take standard visual and verbal memory tests, as well as an evaluation of decision making and problem solving activities. About a third of the study subjects also submitted to functional MRI scans at both the start and end of the study in an effort to look for activity changes in the brain.
The strength-training subjects had significant cognitive improvement compared to those who did the balance/tone workouts. The strength trainers also experienced activity changes in three parts of the brain’s cortex that are associated with thinking. These changes were not found in the balance/tone group. As for the aerobic group, while there were big physical improvements compared to the balance/tone group, these exercisers didn’t get the same mental benefit, as did the strength trainers.
But why would strength training work over aerobics?
Overweight? Shocking Proof that it may not be your fault
99% of the “professional” weight loss techniques are wrong – ending up with you actually putting on weight rather than losing it.
Find out why counting calories is bad for you and can sabotage your dieting efforts.
Discover a new way to effortlessly shed unwanted pounds and drop 9 lbs. every 11 days.
This diet is called the “Idiot Proof Diet” because it’s all worked out for you and there’s no need for calorie counting or label reading.
Click through to find out how you can be slimmer with this innovative new weight loss system…
Click through now to discover how to drop 9lbs every 11 days…
*Disclosure: compensated affiliate*
Strength Training Might Help Strengthen Seniors’ Brains… Continued…
For now researchers can only speculate that resistance training calls for more learning and monitoring – you have to keep track of weights, the reps, adjust the seats of different machines. Walking, the aerobic activity, is more natural, requires less thought and attention.
The researchers on this work have made a YouTube video to help both seniors get started with some simple things you can do at home or at the gym. Those new to exercise should use a trainer to be sure they’re doing things properly and build slowly.
The research did involve small numbers, and will need to be repeated in larger groups to see if the benefits of strength training hold out. Should the study findings hold, strength training might become an intervention for those suffering mild cognitive impairment that brings down their risk of dementia later on.