Weight Training Improves Cognitive Function In Seniors

New research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reports on the first randomized controlled trials of progressively intensive resistance training in senior women.  The researchers found that 12 months of once-weekly or twice-weekly resistance training improved executive cognitive function in senior women aged 65 to 75 years old. Executive cognitive functions are cognitive abilities necessary for independent living.

The study conducted by Vancouver Coastal Health and the University of British Columbia was able to demonstrate that simple training with weights that seniors can easily handle improved ability to make accurate decisions quickly.  In addition, the medical team found that the exercises led to increased walking speed, a predictor of considerable reduction in mortality.

Previous studies have shown that aerobic exercise training, such as walking or swimming enhances brain and cognitive function. However, seniors with limited mobility are unable to benefit from this type of exercise.

“Cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease among seniors is a pressing health care issue and is a key risk factor for falls,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.  Falls cause hip fractures which create a need for long-term care especially among seniors.

An estimated 5.1 million Americans currently have Alzheimer’s disease.  This includes 4.9 million people over the age of 65 according to the organization.  “Every 72 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimer’s,” Slome adds.  “Anything people can do to prevent the need is worth looking into.”

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