TORONTO — We’re not talking about bulking up like a champion weightlifter, but research shows resistance training can be good for seniors, slowing cognitive decline while improving their strength and mobility.
Previous research has found aerobic exercise such as walking and swimming can help keep people mentally sharp as they age.
But in a study of 155 women aged 65 to 75, researchers at the University of British Columbia found those assigned to a year of once- or twice-weekly resistance-training programs showed measurable improvement in cognitive ability.
“We were able to demonstrate that simple training with weights that seniors can easily handle improved ability to make accurate decisions quickly,” said principal researcher Teresa Liu-Ambrose, a researcher at the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility at Vancouver General Hospital.
The study, published in this week’s issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, randomly assigned the women to one of three exercise groups: once-a-week resistance training; the same program twice a week; or a twice-weekly balance and toning routine.
Testing showed the women who took part in weight-training improved cognitive ability by up to 12.6 per cent after the 12-month program, while those who did only balance and toning exercises regressed slightly after one year.
“There’s lots of studies now to suggest that there’s a huge interrelationship between cognition and your physical abilities, ” said Liu-Ambrose.
Resistance training — a good workout alternative for seniors with limited mobility — is beneficial because weight-bearing exercise helps prevent osteoporosis and the risk of fractures linked to falls, she said.
— The Canadian Press