You want an exercise that will put both your body AND your mind into overdrive? Weightlifting might just be your thing.
The researchers over at Sydney University focused on 100 people aged 55 to 86 with MCI, or Mild Cognitive Impairment – a condition believed to be a precursor to developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
These test subjects were asked to do weight lifting and brain training.
“What we found in this follow-up study is that the improvement in cognition function was related to their muscle strength gains. The stronger people became, the greater the benefit for their brain,” said Dr. Yorgi Mavros, the lead author of the study.
Back in 2014, the same team of scientists also researched how cognition skills improve as a result of weight training, and the results were visible even 12 months after that research was concluded.
Twice A Week Is All It Takes
Study’s participants did a weightlifting exercise two times a week. They worked with weights 80% of their max lift, while they added weight as they got stronger sticking to the 80% rule. MRI scans of the study’s subjects actually showed a significant increase in certain areas of their brains.
“The more we can get people doing resistance training like weight lifting, the more likely we are to have a healthier ageing population,” said Dr. Mavros. “The key however is to make sure you are doing it frequently, at least twice a week, and at a high intensity so that you are maximizing your strength gains. This will give you the maximum benefit for your brain.”
The Link Between Muscle Strength And Cognitive Performance
Professor Maria Fiatarone Singh, geriatrician at University of Sydney and the senior author of the study, wants to delve even deeper into their findings and further studies in order to pinpoint the underlying link between exercise and brain growth.
“The next step now is to determine if the increases in muscle strength are also related to increases in brain size that we saw.”
“In addition, we want to find the underlying messenger that links muscle strength, brain growth, and cognitive performance, and determine the optimal way to prescribe exercise to maximize these effects.”