Quirks & Quarks

Weight-lifting is Good For the Aging Brain

Two sessions of weight lifting a week for seniors improves cogintive function and slows the development of age-related brain lesions.

Twice a week weight lifting for seniors improves cognitive function.

Weight lifting women (Michael Smith Foundation For Health Research)
Aerobic exercise has been demonstrated to increase cognitive ability - particularly in seniors - but the connection between brain health and weight training has been less studied. Now Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, Canada Research Chair and the Director of the Ageing, Mobility and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at UBC in Vancouver, has studied the effects of weight training on three groups of women, aged 65 to 75.

After 12 months, those in the group that did twice-a-week weight training performed better on cognitive tests than those in the once-a-week group and those who did mostly toning and stretching exercises.

But the study's most significant find was that those who did the most weight training showed significantly lower lesions in the brain's white matter. Lesions are a normal part of ageing that eventually impair cognition as they get larger over time. The study concluded that weight training is beneficial to overall brain health.

Related Links

Paper in the Journal of The American Geriatrics Society
-​ UBC Aging, Mobility and Cogintive Neuroscience Lab
- Falls Prevention Clinic
- Men's Fitness story