Throughout the years many studies have been conducted to find out if the brain can in fact be described as being ‘like a muscle’. Bellow are a few examples that support that specific physical activities have indeed the capacity of altering the structure of the brain…

In the 1990s, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif, discovered that exercise provides benefits to the brain. The scientists examined the impact on brain activity in mice by having one group ‘exercise’ on running wheels while another group remained sedentary. The results showed that the mice that exercised produced far more cells in the area of the brain controlling memory creation than animals that didn’t run, as well as performing better on subsequent memory tests.

The study above discovered that exercise provides benefits to the brain. It indicated that vigorous aerobic exercise could have a positive impact in cognitive development. Further tests on humans have reinforced the above results by finding an improvement on people with mild cognitive impairment (often a precursor to dementia). In light of the above, an Australian research team have been looking into whether resistance training has a similar effect on the brain.

68 women and 32 men ages 55 through 86 took part, all of whom had mild cognitive impairment, and randomly assigned to two groups. One group did weight training twice a week for six months, lifting 80% of their one rep maximum. The other did stretching exercises.

Both groups were given cognitive tests at the beginning and end of the study and 12 months after they finished the study. The group that did the weight training scored significantly higher at the end of the study than at the beginning and retained that gain at 12 months. The gain in test scores was also greatest for those who had the greatest gains in strength. The scores of the group who performed stretching exercises declined somewhat.

“Published online Oct. 24, 2016, by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.”

Further more, Teresa Liu-Ambrose, a principal investigator at the Brain Research Centre at the University of British Columbia, has also speculated in an article in the New York Times that resistance training strengthens the heart—thus improving blood flow to the brain and improving cognitive function. She adds that because you actively have to think about proper form and learning the technique when weightlifting, there can be an increase in brain usage.

So really, resistance training is food for everybody’s brain!

In light of all the data collected up to now, it would be safe to assume that training and weightlifting does helps improve memory, slows the onset of dementia, and strengthens the heart. It increases blood flow to the brain and improves cognitive function in everyone.

In younger adults, even 20-min training has shown to boost long term memory. In older adults, a brief workout can improve memory due to release of stress hormone norepinephrine

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