Stronger muscles may make the brain stronger

Emobileclinic Researchers Corner




In a recent study conducted by Researchers from University of Sydney, Australia has discovered that progressively higher muscle strength through activities such as weightlifting boosts cognitive function. The finding was published in the Journal of American Geriatrics.


The team focused on a Study of Mental and Resistance Training (SMART) conducted on patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) from 55 to68 years old. The risk of developing of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is high in people with MCI.


The findings are pertinent and timely given the high prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease among the aging population. In the 2016 World Alzheimer Report, about 47 million people globally have dementia and by 2050, close to 141 million people will be affected.
As a result of the exorbitant cost of treating patients with dementia, the World Alzheimer Report suggests seeking alternatives to specialist care. The report offers a holistic approach that focuses on enhancing the quality of life for people living with the condition.
It is against this background that a link between physical training and boosting brain function might be timely.
The study focused at progressive resistance training such as weightlifting and its effect on the functioning of the brain. About 100 older adults living with MCI participated in the study. MCI patients were grouped into four with assigned range of activities that included a combination of resistance exercise such as weightlifting and placebo resistance in the form of seated stretching as well as computerized cognitive training and its placebo equivalent.

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No improvement of cognitive in those exposed to the cognitive training and placebo activities. However, the study revealed a proportional relation between improvement in brain function and improvement in muscle strength.

Earlier studies have revealed a positive link between physical exercise and cognitive function; however, the SMART trial championed by Dr. Mavros has comprehensive details on the type, quality and frequency of exercise needed to get the overall cognitive benefits.
In the study, participants had weightlifting sessions twice weekly for 6 months, working to at least 80 percent of their peak strength. The weights were gradually increased as participants became stronger while maintaining their peak strength at 80 percent.
This is why Dr Mavros says “the more we can get people doing resistance training like weightlifting, the more likely we are to have a healthier aging population,” and that “the key, however, is to make sure you are doing it frequently, at least twice a week, and at a high intensity so that you are maximizing your strength gains. This will give you the maximum benefit for your brain.”
This is the first time a study has revealed an unambiguous causal link between increasing muscle strength and improving brain function in patients with MCI above 55 years old.






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