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Seniors can Improve Thinking and Balance with Strength Training

- Friday, September 23, 2011

Lifting weights and other forms of resistance training is great brain exercise for older adults as well as their physical health.

Canadian researchers found that strength and balance training improved cognitive ability among a group of 28 older men and women with a history of falling who took part in a fall prevention program.

After six months, the participants, age 70 and older, showed a 13% improvement in high-level thinking skills. The skills of a control group of 24 people who also had a history of falling but received standard care deteriorated 10%.
According to researcher Teresa Liu-Ambrose of the University of British Columbia, those whose brain function improved received regular visits from a physiotherapist who encouraged them to go through specific strength training exercises and balance exercises for seniors three times weekly and to walk at least twice weekly. Individuals in the control group were expected to initiate the exercise program on their own; none of them did.

The exercise program also helped reduce falls: After one year, 43% of the exercise group had repeat falls, compared with 67% of the standard care group.

Most research to date has focused on the benefits of aerobic exercise on the brain, but mounting evidence shows that resistance training may also help with brain health.

The link between cognitive function and exercise is just beginning to emerge. There are many other positive benefits to resistance training, but we now see that exercise can also help maintain cognitive skills as we age.

Original article AARP