People who exercise probably know they are doing something good for their brain. After exercise, they feel good or happier or calmer. They think more clearly. Runners talk about the “runner’s high”.
Most of those brain results come from cardiovascular exercise—raising your heart rate and keeping it raised for some length of time. Working your heart muscle. This does release specific “feel-good” chemicals in the brain, as well as get your brain fed and watered by oxygen and nutrient-carrying/waste-removing blood.
But did you know that by gradually increasing muscle strength, you can also improve cognitive function?
The Centre for Healthy Brian Ageing at the University of Sydney in Australia recently studied 100 older adults (ages 55+) living with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). These patients were chosen because 80% of patients diagnosed with MCI develop Alzheimer’s disease after approximately 6 years. The patients were divided into 4 groups: resistance training, seated stretching, computer-based cognitive training (“brain games”), and a placebo.
The computer-based and placebo groups showed zero improvement. However, the resistance group showed a proportional relation between improvement in brain function and improvement in muscle strength. They worked only twice a week for 6 months, and demonstrated measurable changes in attention, planning and organizing. According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Yorgi Mavros, “What we found is that the improvement in cognitive function was related to their muscle strength gains. The stronger people became, the greater the benefit for their brain.”
In a nutshell: Strength matters. Stay strong. If you are not currently strong, start getting stronger NOW.
CoreMatters is a private strength studio. If you’d like to get started, give us a call at (404) 435-6367 and schedule your free consultation–today.