There is no question that exercise is essential for our physical health, especially strength training. Studies have shown that regular physical activity has many benefits. Exercise can improve cardiovascular health, maintain weight, reduce the risk of certain cancers, and strengthen bones and muscles.
Apart from the physical benefits, breaking a sweat at the gym could also benefit your brain, according to research. Several studies show that increasing muscle strength can play a vital role in healthy cognitive function.
Fueling The Brain Through Strength Training
In a remarkable study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics, researchers collaborated with the Centre for Healthy Brain Aging (CHeBA) at the University of New South Wales and the University of Adelaide.
In the Study of Mental and Resistance Training (SMART) trial, researchers predominantly examined the relationship between increased muscle strength and mild cognitive impairment on 100 community-dwelling adults with MCI aged between 55 and 86.
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MCI refers to individuals with significantly reduced cognitive abilities, such as memory, but can still live independently. People suffering from MCI are at greater risk of developing more serious cognitive ailments such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers divided participants into four groups, who then engaged in various activities. Each grouping worked to complete mental development tasks or strength training activities. Another pair of groups worked on placebo mental development or strength-building tasks such as seated stretching and calisthenics.
The Significance Of SMART
Findings from the Study of Mental and Resistance Training (SMART) trial revealed global cognition improved significantly after the resistance training. Despite this, those who participated in both cognitive and placebo training did not see any improvement. This indicates that people who incorporate strength training into their weekly routines have a better chance of staving off serious cognitive conditions.
With over 139 million people expected to be affected by Alzheimer’s by 2050, the findings from the study are noteworthy. As per the SMART trail, the development of cognitive function can be achieved through continuous improvement of muscle strength.
Although not a magical elixir for youth, regular strength training can be a huge step forward for a healthier life down the road. While there is a long road ahead to finding permanent cures and treatments for mental ailments such as Alzheimer’s, these findings show we are continuing on the right path.