Weight training improves cognitive function in seniors

Length: 256 words

Weight-bearing exercises may help minimise cognitive decline and impaired mobility in seniors, according to a new study conducted by the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility at Vancouver Coastal Health and the University of British Columbia.

The study, published on 25 January in the Archives of Internal Medicine, is one of the first randomised controlled trials of progressively intensive resistance training in senior women.

Led by Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, researcher at the Centre and assistant professor in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC, the research team found that 12 months of once-weekly or twice-weekly resistance training improved executive cognitive function in senior women aged 65 to 75 years old. Executive cognitive functions are cognitive abilities necessary for independent living.

”We were able to demonstrate that simple training with weights that seniors can easily handle improved ability to make accurate decisions quickly,” says Liu-Ambrose, who is also a researcher at the Brain Research Centre at UBC and Vancouver Coastal Health. ”Additionally, we found that the exercises led to increased walking speed, a predictor of considerable reduction in mortality.”

Previous studies have shown that aerobic exercise training, such as walking or swimming enhances brain and cognitive function. However, seniors with limited mobility are unable to benefit from this type of exercise.

Until now, the benefits of resistance training, which is an attractive alternative type of exercise for seniors with limited mobility, on cognitive function has received little investigation. Liu-Ambrose is one of few researchers in Canada investigating the role of targeted resistance training in promoting mobility and cognitive in seniors.

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