Okay, I would have to be the first to admit that when I think of resistance training or weight lifting, probably the last thing that would come to mind would be elderly women performing sets of bicep curls. How about you?
However, a recent study published in the journal, Archives of Internal Medicine, suggests that resistance training may improve executive cognitive function in women between the ages of 65-75.
Cognitive decline among seniors is serious health issue which will be brought to the forefront by our increasingly aging population.
In terms of the specifics of this particular study, women between the ages of 65-75 years of age were allocated to three groups: once weekly, twice weekly resistance training, or balance and tone training (control group). The exercise sessions were 60 minutes long including warm-up and cool down. All exercise sessions were led by certified fitness instructors. The duration of the study was for one year.
As for the exercise sessions themselves, they included a combination of leg presses and free weight exercises. Specifically, this included leg presses, leg extensions, leg curls, calf raises, bicep curls, triceps curls, seated rowing, and latissimus dorsi pull-down exercises.
Important! ***If you are a woman in this age group considering such an exercise routine, make sure you talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program.
How Much Training Is Needed To Prevent Cognitive Decline?
Both the once weekly and twice weekly resistance training groups experienced significant improvements in their cognitive executive function while the control group did not.
What’s the catch? Both intervention groups had significant musculoskeletal complaints such as knee-joint discomfort or bursa irritation in the hip. Surprisingly, the once weekly resistance training group had a much higher percentage of these adverse effects (29.8%) than the twice-weekly group (10.9%).
Though this study only included women, a similar study by Casil has found similar cognitive improvements from resistance training in elderly men.
- Liu-Ambrose T, Nagamatsu LS, Graf P, Beattie BL, Ashe MC, Handy TC. Resistance training and executive functions: a 12-month randomized controlled trial. Arch Intern Med. 2010 Jan 25;170(2):170-8.
- Cassilhas RC, Viana VA, Grassmann V, et al. The impact of resistance exercise on the cognitive function of the elderly. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007;39(8): 1401-1407.