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Lifting Weights Help the Elderly Maintain Brain Function

A senior woman lifting weightsIt has been suggested that aging parents working out has many benefits from a healthy lifestyle, keeping the body mobile and fit & it releases “happy” neurons in the brain.

Although this still holds true, there has been other recent science that suggest resistance training also has brain benefits suggesting if you are elderly or aging, and only do cardio fitness you could be missing out.

Two new experiments, one involving animals and other with people suggest that regular exercise can substantially improve memory.

For those of us who are in age groups approaching or currently in stages of life with declining cognitive ability this is especially exciting news. Elderly people should do all types of exercise including weight training!

For the human study, published in The Journal of Aging Research, scientists at the University of British Columbia recruited dozens of women ages 70 to 80 who had been found to have mild cognitive impairment, a condition that makes a person’s memory and thinking more muddled than would be expected at a given age.

The same group of research found that elderly women, after weight training, with mild cognitive impairment started showing signs of improvement. The study took two groups of women between the ages of 70 – 80. One group who had exercised, either by walking or weight training, performed better on almost the entire cognitive test after six months then they did before. So if you are elderly or a senior get to the gym!

What all of this new research suggests, says Teresa Liu-Ambrose, an associate professor in the Brain Research Center at the University of British Columbia who oversaw the experiments with older women, is that for the most robust brain health, it’s probably advisable to incorporate both aerobic and resistance training. Elderly exercise is critical to brain function. It seems that each type of exercise “selectively targets different aspects of cognition,” she says, probably by sparking the release of different proteins in the body and brain.

“When we started these experiments,” she says, “most of us thought that, at best, we’d see less decline” in memory function among the volunteers who exercised, which still would have represented success. But beyond merely stemming people’s memory loss, she says, “we saw actual improvements,” an outcome that, if you’re an aging adult waffling about exercising today, is worth remembering.

This study shows that as you age that exercise can be used to ward off dementia. As a person ages, it is important to maintain exercise in their life. Even the elderly can do both cardio and weight training to gain the full benefits associated with exercise.
 

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