Scientists from University of Sydney, Australia determined that high intensity weight training stimulates mental abilities of older people that have mild cognitive impairment, which is associated to a dementia occurring later.
Professor Maria Fiatarone Singh, a geriatrician at the University, said weight training may significantly reduce the risk of dementia.
“We know weight training stimulates hormones that make muscles grow and it’s possible these hormones are also having similar benefits for brain function,” said Prof Fiatarone Singh.
In the study, researchers created three groups from an initial study population of 10 adults over 60 years old that had mild cognitive impairment.
The first group practiced weight training for six month, while another group practiced computer-based brain training, and the third group had a treatment using a combination of both methods.
The first group, practicing weight training showed substantial improvement on the Alzheimer’s disease assessment measurement scale, said Prof Singh.
Participants in this group showed improvement in overall cognitive function, particularly in their ability to plan, organize, and devise strategies as well as visual memory, she said.
A year later, participants in this group still displayed the same improvements after the supervised training stopped.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a disease that is projected to affect 135 million people globally by 2050.