We often here how aerobic exercise is good for your brain as well as for your body, but what about weight training? Does it benefit your brain as well? Researchers who just completed a study at the University of British Columbia say that it does.
The study involved 54 women aged 65 to 75 who on resonance brain scans had shown that they already had some defects (basically small “holes”) in the white matter part of the brain—the covering layer of the brain.
As we get older, for most people, our muscles tend to get smaller and our brains as well. But some people can maintain their brains in good condition, while others develop the small defects in the white matter of the brain. These defects signify loss of brain cells, and often when this occurs, the person becomes slower and less steady in walking.
It is known that aerobic exercise slows the formation of these defects and helps keep the brain intact, but the researchers wanted to see if weight training alone would do the same. They divided the women randomly into 3 groups. One group enrolled in a supervised, light intensity upper- and lower-body weight training program, once a week. Another group did the same weight training program, but twice a week, and the third group of women only did stretching and balance training once weekly, without weight training.
All the women had brain resonance scans at the beginning of the study then again at one year. The results showed that only the women who did the weight training twice a week showed a significantly slower progression of the brain defects, along with faster, smoother walking. The women who worked out once a week, or who only did the balance and stretching training, had no improvement.
This study gives more support to the concept that a combination of both aerobics and weight training is helpful to keep your metabolism working better, strengthen your muscles, and your brain as well. And according to this Canadian study, you should do weight lifting at least twice a week to show benefits, but the good news is the weights can be relatively light.
While this study was done only in women, the same effects would be expected for men, but the researchers are planning to study men in the next research. They also want to see if the weight training improves the ability to think as well as diminishing the white matter brain defects.
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