The Research

No matter what your age, gender or background, there’s always a lot to be gained from regular strength/resistance training. It is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your independence for many years to come.

Cardiovascular exercises like running, jogging have been shown to increase mental health. But recent studies have also suggested that regular resistance training (strength training and weightlifting) can provide a boost to our overall cognitive performance.

Young Adults Can Benefit From Weightlifting

According to lead researcher Lisa Weinberg: “Our study indicates that people don’t have to dedicate large amounts of time to give their brain a boost.” In support of this, The Georgia Institute of Technology found that younger adults who lifted weights not only strengthen their muscles but their brains too. Astoundingly only a couple of 20 minutes sessions showed a positive impact in long-term memory in the participants.

Source: https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/2022/19681/McCracken_indiana_0093A_13393.pdf?sequence=1

In this experiment, 46 volunteers were randomly assigned to one of two groups—one active, and one passive. Initially, all of the participants viewed a series of 90 images, classified as either positive, neutral, or negative. Afterward, they were asked to recall as many images as they could.
Further research showed participants a series of positive, negative and neutral images (emotional experiences). Each participant was then allocated to a group; either active or passive. The active group performed 50 leg extensions at maximum effort (short term stress experience). The passive group let the machine move their legs without any exertion.
Two days later participants from both groups were shown the images again. Researchers recorded improved recall for the active group of both negative and positive images.

The final findings suggested a correlation between short term stress and memory improvement (in this case the recall of emotional experiences)

…Can Over 50’s Benefit From Resistance Training?

Previous research in men and women (ages ranging 50 to 85 years old) has found that a brief workout improves memory due to the exercise-induced release of the stress hormone norepinephrine.
A 2013 study conducted by the University of British Columbia examined the impact of resistance training in areas of on conflict resolution, attention and memory in women aged between 70-80 that were suffering from mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

All 86 participants performed baseline memory tests prior to starting the study. They were then divided into three groups; group 1 performed resistance training exercises, group 2 followed an aerobic program and group 3 attended balance & toning classes. All 3 groups trained twice a week over the course of 6 months.

At the end of the 6 months all participants re-took memory tests. The results showed a cognitive impairment growth in the balance & toning participants as they scored worst than at the start of the study. Both participants of the Resistance training and the aerobic groups performed better on almost all cognitive tests after 6 montths than they did before.
The researchers claimed that their results showed that resistance training can improve both your cognitive performance and your brain function.

Source: https://www.curejoy.com/content/weightlifting-build-muscles-brain/

Combating cognitive decline and stimulating executive functions…

Weight training, even as infrequently as once or twice a week, has been shown to improve something called “executive function” in the senior population.
Executive functions work as the building blocks of reasoning, planning and creative problem solving. The latest research supports the use of weight training as a way to improve these essential functions of the brain.

Throw a dumbbell at depression!

Out of all the benefits of resistance training, there is one that will always strike a cord… The happiness from within that is almost immediate once you start your journey into fitness.
Strength training doesn’t just make you think faster. It may just make your day brighter. Exercising skeletal muscles help the body purge a protein associated with depression. Look at the body’s ability to detoxify itself during periods of stress. Muscles which are consistently exercised even show the ability to mobilise enzymes to join the fight against depression – and how incredible is that…

Source:
https://www.ausmed.com/articles/exercise-induced-neuroplasticity/

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