Weight training can keep senior minds sharp

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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The Centre for Hip Health and Mobility at Vancouver Coastal Health and the University of British Columbia recently conducted a study showing that weight training can keep senior minds sharp. Progressive weight training, one or two times a week, was found to boost memory among women age 65 to 75.

"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." Remaining strong and active is vital for independent living. Weight training can help seniors live independently.

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Past studies show that active seniors who are able to engage in aerobic exercise experience less memory decline. The current study is the first to show that older individuals with limited mobility can benefit from weight training as an alternative exercise to reduce fall risk and improve memory.

"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."

The study authors recommend weight training as an immediate intervention for seniors that can help meet the recommended guidelines for daily physical activity. The study is the first to measure the benefits of weight training for boosting memory among senior citizens.

Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(2):170-178.

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