Research out of the University of Sydney has found that strength training can help to protect the part of the brain that is susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers studied 100 people who were considered at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s due to cognitive deterioration, including memory loss, as reported by the ABC.
The participants were split into four groups and each were given a mixture of different tasks, which included strength training and computerised cognitive training.
The group who were selected for weights training undertook 90 minutes of supervised exercise each week and the regime lasted for six months.
“They did that for 45 minutes, twice a week, for six months and then we waited for 12 months and that’s when we saw these really strong effects,” Michael Valenzuela, senior author of the study, told the ABC.
While the strength training group experienced positive results, the control group who didn’t partake in the exercise weren’t so lucky.
“What we saw was a difference in terms of decline,” said Professor Valenzuela.
“In the control group, those sub-parts of the hippocampus were shrinking at an expected level of around three to four percent. In those doing weight training, we saw much less, so one to two percent and in some areas none at all.”
The results of the study emphasis just how important exercise is for brain health and how strength training is particularly positive for those at risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
“There was a clear difference in terms of brain anatomy and linked to that, those people doing strength exercises had far better cognitive outcomes than otherwise,” Professor Valenzuela said.
“These are not just structural changes, which are interesting for their own sake, they have a functional consequence.”
Going forward, Professor Valenzuela hopes that this research will encourage more people to become active for the sake of their health.
“I do think it’s very important and it’s really pointing to the message that people hopefully have heard that exercise is good for the brain and the body but part of that exercise mix really should be strength training and lifting weights.”