Dementia prevention may include weight training study suggests

Dementia prevention may include weight training study suggests

Dementia prevention in elderly women may now include weight training, according to a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The study conducted by researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada included 86 women between the ages of 70 and 80 with mild cognitive impairment (problems with memory or other functions of the brain that were noticeable but not severe enough to interfere with their daily life). Researchers separated the women into groups that underwent resistance training, aerobic exercise, or balance/tone training twice a week for six months.

The group undergoing resistance training showed improvements in executive brain functioning and associative memory (one thought or memory triggering other thoughts or memories) based on cognitive tests .

MRI studies also showed increased blood flow to key areas of the brain associated with the improved performance on the cognitive tests.

Study co-author Teresa Liu-Ambrose, an assistant professor in the department of physical therapy at the University of British Columbia explained that although the aerobics group also showed improvement in their cardiovascular health they did not show the same results on the cognitive tests as the resistance training group: “Most studies have looked at aerobic training, but this study compares both aerobic and strength training. And among people who don’t yet have dementia but are already at a high risk in terms of mild memory and executive function impairment, our study shows that strength training, but not aerobics training, does have benefits for cognition.”

Liu-Ambrose continues by adding: “I am already convinced of the positive effects of exercise on aging but we need to refine the prescription for exercise through evidence. We need to be able to say who will benefit from what specific forms of exercise.”

Zaven S. Khachaturian, President of the Campaign to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease by 2020, finds the research promising but believes more research is needed in larger studies to confirm these findings.