Good nutrition together with a regular exercise routine, have long been touted as important factors in living a healthy lifestyle and promoting a younger you. Australian researchers have recently discovered the type of exercise that can help maintain memory and improve brain function in older adults – lifting weights twice a week.
A study was undertaken on a group of 100 adults between the ages of 55 and 85 who had been diagnosed with mild cognitive deterioration – a precursor to Alzheimer’s – and had noticeably impaired memory function, but were still independent and able to live on their own. They were divided into two exercise classes whereby one group performed resistance exercises and the other, seated stretching and calisthenics twice a week for six weeks. The adults who did strength training used weight resistance machines which increased in strength as they became stronger. The results after 6 weeks showed significant improvement in cognitive function and thinking ability in the strength training group, as opposed to the second group. An MRI also revealed an increase in size in certain areas of the brain and that these brain changes affected cognitive function.
A similar study performed by the University of Columbia in 2012 also found that strength training had more of an impact on the brain than any other form of exercise. This evidence has a significant impact on the millions of people who will be diagnosed with dementia in the future. The key of course is performing the exercises at high intensity at least twice a week.
Discovering the particular type of exercise that can help an aging population ward of dementia and promote a healthy brain is significant for the future to help prevent, or even potentially reverse memory loss.