Resistance training can slow down cognitive decline in aged women, Canadian researchers say.
Resistance training is any exercise that causes the muscles to contract against an external resistance with the expectation of increases in strength, tone, mass, and/or endurance. The external resistance can be dumbbells, rubber exercise tubing, your own body weight, bricks, bottles of water, or any other object that causes the muscles to contract. When you lift weights at the gym to get stronger or bigger or more toned, you are performing resistance exercise.
Cognitive decline among seniors is a pressing
health care issue. Specific exercise training may combat cognitive
decline. A team of Vancouver-based doctors compared the effect of once-weekly and twice-weekly
resistance training with that of twice-weekly balance and tone
exercise training on the performance of executive cognitive
functions in senior women.
In a single-blinded randomized trial, 155 community-dwelling
women aged 65 to 75 years living in Vancouver were randomly
allocated to once-weekly or twice-weekly
resistance training or twice-weekly balance
and tone training.
Both resistance training groups significantly
improved their performance on the Stroop psychological test compared with
those in the balance and tone group.
performance improved by 12.6% and 10.9% in the once-weekly and
twice-weekly resistance training groups, respectively.
Hence twelve months of once-weekly or twice-weekly
resistance training benefited the executive cognitive function
of selective attention and conflict resolution among senior
women, concluded the researchers in their paper published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Previous research has found that aerobic exercise such as walking and swimming can help keep people mentally sharp as they age, yet few have looked at the effects on brain health of weight training aimed at building and strengthening muscles and bone.
"We were able to demonstrate that simple training with weights that seniors can easily handle improved ability to make accurate decisions quickly," said principal researcher Teresa Liu-Ambrose of the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility at Vancouver General Hospital.