Strength training can boost brain power

Research we monitor

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Recent studies have indicated that vigorous aerobic exercise can improve memory and reasoning in people with mild cognitive impairment, which is often a precursor to dementia. A team of Australian researchers investigated whether resistance training has a similar effect.

The team recruited 68 women and 32 men aged 55 to 86, all with mild cognitive impairment, and randomly divided them into two groups. One group did strength training twice a week for six months, lifting 80% of the maximum amount they could. The other did stretching exercises.

All participants received cognitive tests at the start and end of the study and 12 months after completing the study. The strength training group scored significantly higher at the end of the study than at the start and maintained this gain at 12 months. Gain in test scores was also greatest for those with the greatest strength gains. The scores of the group that performed stretching exercises decreased somewhat.

The results were published online on October 24, 2016 by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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