Strength Training To Help Cognitive Function

Strength Training To Help Cognitive Function

It’s a fact that strength-training will make your body stronger, however, very few probably know that strength training can also help the brain.

The brain, like your heart, is an organ, it is constantly morphing, adapting and repairing damage in response to the challenges of daily life.

The brain also changes as we age, as per the rest of our ailing frame. Neurological studies are illustrating that by our middle ages the majority of people are developing age related lesions in the white matter of the brain.


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The white matter is like mortar in a brick built house. It connects the different regions of the brain and sends messages back and forth. As we age, the lesions grow and multiply and reek havoc with cognitive function. The brain also shrinks when we age too and this is one of the reasons why older people walk more slowly and can easily lose balance.

A new study that was released showed that a group of participants who lifted weights twice a week over the course of a year slowed the progress of existing lesions and developed significantly fewer lesions that the group who had only performed strength training once a week or had just done stretching exercises.  Further studies also showed that the twice per week strength training group had less brain shrinkage and could walk more quickly.

If anything, this shows the importance of strength training and that training less that twice per week is not sufficient.


To add further weight to this new evidence, another study required a group of adults to observe 90 photos, then half of the adults did exercise, whilst the remaining half did nothing.  Two days later the two groups were asked to look at 180 photographs of which some were shown to them 2 days previously. They were then asked to recall as many photo’s as they could from two days previously. The results were that the exercise group recalled 60% of the photo’s, the non-exercise group fared far worse.

Evidence from numerous studies shows that exercise improves cognitive function, in particular memory. The brain releases norepinephrine during exercise and this is a chemical messenger in the brain which relates to memory function.

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Ben BA(Hons), PGCert

Ben established this site to be a free resource in 2015. Since then it has gained over half a million visits. He has always been interested in sport and he started playing rugby at the age of 6 represented his town, county and school. Ben also enjoys cycling, has started skiing and is in the Army Reserve representing his Regiment as part of the 150 Regimental Shooting Team. He holds a bachelor's and postgraduate degree in sport exercise & nutrition.
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