Strength train­ing is key for se­niors

The Sun (Malaysia) - - LIFESTYLE -

AUS­TRALIAN re­searchers have found more ev­i­dence to sug­gest that im­prov­ing mus­cle strength can im­prove brain func­tion, and pos­si­bly pre­vent the on­set of de­men­tia.

Their re­search, car­ried out by the Uni­ver­sity of Syd­ney for the Study of Men­tal and Re­sis­tance Train­ing (SMART) trial, showed for the first time, a pos­i­tive link be­tween pro­gres­sive re­sis­tance train­ing, and brain func­tion in over-55s suf­fer­ing from mild cog­ni­tive im­pair­ment (MCI).

Al­though those with MCI are still able to live in­de­pen­dently, the con­di­tion leads to re­duced cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties, such as re­duced mem­ory, and is a pre­cur­sor to Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

For its re­search, the team col­lab­o­rated with the Cen­tre for Healthy Brain Age­ing (CHeBA) at the Uni­ver­sity of New South Wales and the Uni­ver­sity of Ade­laide to study 100 com­mu­nity-dwelling adults with MCI, aged be­tween 55 and 86.

Par­tic­i­pants were di­vided into four groups, do­ing one of the fol­low­ing com­bi­na­tions: re­sis­tance ex­er­cise and com­put­erised cog­ni­tive train­ing; re­sis­tance ex­er­cise and a placebo com­put­erised train­ing (watch­ing na­ture videos); brain train­ing and a placebo ex­er­cise pro­gramme (seated stretch­ing/ cal­is­then­ics); or placebo phys­i­cal ex­er­cise and placebo cog­ni­tive train­ing.

Those who par­tic­i­pated in the re­sis­tance ex­er­cise com­pleted weight-lift­ing ses­sions twice a week for six months, work­ing to at least 80% of their peak strength.

As they got stronger, the amount of weight was in­creased to main­tain the in­ten­sity at 80% of their peak strength.

The re­searchers found that an im­prove­ment in cog­ni­tive func­tion was re­lated to an in­crease in mus­cle strength, with lead author Dr Yorgi Mavros, from the Fac­ulty of Health Sci­ences at the Uni­ver­sity of Syd­ney com­ment­ing that “the stronger peo­ple be­came, the greater the ben­e­fit for their brain”.

Mavros now ad­vises: “The more we can get peo­ple do­ing re­sis­tance train­ing like weight-lift­ing, the more likely we are to have a health­ier age­ing pop­u­la­tion.”

But he added: “The key how­ever, is to make sure you are do­ing it fre­quently, at least twice a week, and at a high in­ten­sity so that you are max­imis­ing your strength gains. This will give you the max­i­mum ben­e­fit for your brain.”

Another 10-year UK study which looked at fe­male twins found that the twins with more leg power at the be­gin­ning of the study had bet­ter cog­ni­tive health and fewer cere­bral changes caused by age­ing at the end of the 10 years.

A team of US re­searchers also found that strength-train­ing re­duced the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and cancer, help­ing se­niors to live longer.

Mean­while re­searchers from the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Los An­ge­les, dis­cov­ered ear­lier this year that reg­u­lar phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity in gen­eral could in­crease brain size and de­crease the risk of cog­ni­tive de­cline in older adults. – AFP-Re­laxnews

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