The Archives of Internal Medicine published an article this week that demonstrated resistance training in its ability to delay the onset of dementia.
This is a timely article in a population where the majority is entering their golden years.
Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, with the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of British Columbia, found that resistance training performed twice-weekly improved executive function, associative memory and regional patterns of functional brain plasticity in older women who were susceptible to a mild cognitive impairment.
“We provide novel evidence that resistance training can benefit multiple domains and those at risk for dementia,” summarized the article writer Megan Brooks.
The same researcher previously conducted a study that analyzed the effects of resistance training and cognitive function over a 12 month period.
That study demonstrated significant improvement after only six months in those with mild cognitive impairment.
On average, individuals with mild cognitive impairment will develop dementia within the next five years. This study demonstrates that the onset of dementia may not only be delayed, but may be avoided.
The study involved 86 females over the age of 70. Twenty-eight women were designated to an exercise twice weekly group, 28 other women were designated to aerobic training or balance training with 60 being the control group.
Ninety per cent of the 86 females completed the trial, and 22 of those individuals had MRI analysis completed at the end of the study.
After six months, the activity group showed a significant improvement in cognitive testing and conflict resolution.
Memory tasks also improved significantly. MRI studies correlated those findings.
When we are young we learn and remember through using the motor part of our brain, known as the cerebellum. This study indicates the importance of movement, exercise and consistent training and maintaining cognitive health.
Dementia and degenerate brain states have been demonstrated to improve through actively exercising not only our body but our brain. This is well reported in the literature.
Previous studies have considered the application of learning a musical instrument or a second language in the latter years of life in an attempt to improve cognitive function and reduce the incidence of dementia.
This is the first study that has considered the importance of physical training in the form of resistance training and its contributory effect in mental health as we age.