Weight training improves cognitive function in seniors

January 25, 2010

Weight-bearing exercises may help minimize cognitive decline and impaired mobility in seniors, according to a new study conducted by the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility at Vancouver Coastal Health and the University of British Columbia.

The study, published today in the , is one of the first randomized controlled trials of progressively intensive resistance training in senior women. Led by Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, researcher at the Centre and assistant professor in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC, the research team found that 12 months of once-weekly or twice-weekly resistance training improved executive cognitive function in senior women aged 65 to 75 years old. Executive cognitive functions are cognitive abilities necessary for independent living.

"We were able to demonstrate that simple training with weights that seniors can easily handle improved ability to make accurate decisions quickly," says Liu-Ambrose, who is also a researcher at the Brain Research Centre at UBC and Vancouver Coastal Health. "Additionally, we found that the exercises led to increased walking speed, a predictor of considerable reduction in mortality."

Previous studies have shown that training, such as walking or swimming enhances brain and cognitive function. However, seniors with limited mobility are unable to benefit from this type of exercise.

Until now, the benefits of resistance training, which is an attractive alternative type of exercise for seniors with limited mobility, on cognitive function has received little investigation. Liu-Ambrose is one of few researchers in Canada investigating the role of targeted resistance training in promoting mobility and cognitive in seniors.

Cognitive decline among seniors is a pressing health care issue and it is a key risk factor for falls. Approximately 30 per cent of B.C. seniors experience a fall each year and fall-related hip fractures account for more than 4,000 injures each year at a cost of $75 Million to the health care system.

The number of seniors in B.C. is expected to increase by 220 per cent by 2031, representing 23.5 per cent of B.C. population. Effective strategies to prevent cognitive decline are essential to improving quality of life for older British Columbians and to save the health care system millions in associated costs.

"At the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility we focus on research that will have a positive impact on the health of people in B.C. and Canada," says Heather McKay, centre director and professor in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC. "Dr. Liu-Ambrose's research provides a clear illustration of relatively simple interventions with a profound and immediate impact on the mobility and quality of life of older adults."

Results from this study are available for immediate adoption by senior women seeking to improve their health as the doses of resistance training used meet the recommended criteria provided by the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for seniors.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Moderate coffee drinking 'more likely to benefit health than to harm it', say experts

November 22, 2017
Drinking coffee is "more likely to benefit health than to harm it" for a range of health outcomes, say researchers in The BMJ today.

When traveling on public transport, you may want to cover your ears

November 22, 2017
The noise levels commuters are exposed to while using public transport or while biking, could induce hearing loss if experienced repeatedly and over long periods of time, according to a study published in the open access ...

Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses

November 22, 2017
Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses, but spirits are most frequently associated with feelings of aggression, suggests research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Air pollution linked to poorer quality sperm

November 22, 2017
Air pollution, particularly levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), is associated with poorer quality sperm, suggests research published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Sunrise and sunset guide daily activities of city-dwellers

November 21, 2017
Despite artificial lightning and social conventions, the dynamics of daylight still influence the daily activities of people living in modern, urban environments, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

Older men need more protein to maintain muscles

November 21, 2017
The amount of protein recommended by international guidelines is not sufficient to maintain muscle size and strength in older men, according to a new study.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.