Posted on May 17, 2012, 6 a.m.
Older women who lifted weights demonstrated significant improvements in memory tasks after 6 months.
In that both aerobic and resistance training have been shown to improve cognitive performance and functional plasticity in healthy seniors living in the community as well as those with mild cognitive impairment, exercise may be considered a potentially vital way to combat cognitive decline. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, from the University of British Columbia (Canada), and colleagues enrolled 86 community-dwelling women, ages 70 to 80 years, with subjective memory complaints and a score lower than 26 out of 30 on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment. Each subject was randomly allocated to twice-weekly sessions of resistance, aerobic, or balance and tone training. Those in the resistance group used machines and free weights, while those in the aerobic group undertook an outdoor walking program. The balance and tone sessions consisted of stretching, range of motion and balance exercises, and relaxation techniques; the patients in this last group served as controls. The researchers found that women who lifted weights had significant improvements in memory tasks after 6 months, compared with women in a control group who worked on balance and stretching. As well, the women who worked on aerobic training saw their fitness improve but achieved no cognitive benefit, as compared with the control group.
Lindsay S. Nagamatsu; Todd C. Handy; C. Liang Hsu; Michelle Voss; Teresa Liu-Ambrose. “Resistance Training Promotes Cognitive and Functional Brain Plasticity in Seniors With Probable Mild Cognitive Impairment.” Arch Intern Med, Apr 2012; 172: 666 - 668.