Aside from the physical benefits of strength training such as improving balance & posture, boosting energy levels, strengthening bones and developing well-toned muscles, did you know that it also benefits cognitive health? The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society published a study that shows a significant improvement of cognitive function as a result from strength gains after resistance training in older adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).
According to World Health, people who have MCI are at risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease within 6 years. Whether you have been diagnosed or just looking for ways to enhance your mental health, you should really start adding strength training exercises as a part of your fitness routine.
But first, what is a strength training exercise? Well, strength training is a type of physical exercise that uses resistance to induce muscular contraction which builds strength, promote endurance and increase the size of skeletal muscles. (Wikipedia)
In the study that was conducted, 100 people with MCI were divided into four groups with different types of exercise each and these are:
- weightlifting exercises
- seated stretching exercises
- real cognitive training on a computer
- placebo training on a computer
Out of all the four groups, only the group that performed weight lifting exercises demonstrated improvements which prove that muscle strength is linked to improved cognitive functions. I’m sure you are quite intimidated with the words “weight lifting” but you shouldn’t be.
Here are some helpful tips and a few things to remember before you begin your strength training:
- Before you start with any type of exercise, consult with your physician first, especially if you have cardiac or respiratory problems.
- Hire a professional and qualified personal trainer who can design the right routine for your current fitness level and guide you all throughout.
- When you are just starting out, don’t try to do much and train really hard. Just go slow and steady to avoid injuries.
- Give yourself a break. These types of exercises tear down the muscle tissue so it’s a must to rest between exercise sessions.
- Lastly, don’t give up. Just because you don’t see results right, doesn’t mean that you should stop exercising. It’s a gradual process. So just continue doing it and you will eventually reap the results.