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Wendy Shafranski


May 22, 2024

Lift Weights, Improve Your Brain

By now, we all know the benefits of strength training for overall health and specifically things like insulin resistance, bone density, balance, etc. In fact, muscle is often touted as the “organ of longevity.” 

But, did you realize that it also has a profound impact on the brain? 

Let’s dive in…

In this study, 155 females aged 65 to 75 performed a once- or twice-a-week strength-training program and were compared to a twice-weekly balance and toning program. The participants in both resistance-training groups (once a week and twice a week) demonstrated improved memory, enhanced selective attention and improved conflict resolution.  Those who performed the balance and toning workouts did not experience the same improvements.

In another study women between the ages of 60 and 70 participated in a 12-exercise resistance-training program three days per week for 12 weeks. The control group showed no improvements, while the resistance-training group exhibited a 19% improvement in cognitive capacity (as well as improvements in strength).

In another study, adults who lifted heavy weights (80 percent of their max) twice weekly for six months improved their cognitive function more than those who spent the same amount of time doing brain training.

Note that in the studies linked above, participants benefitted from one to three days a week of resistance training, proving that a little goes a long way. Moreover, they were of a “mature” age (I’ve learned recently that elderly was a bad word), proving that it’s never too late to start. 

On the flip side, a three-year study of more than 8,000 women aged 65 to 86 revealed that losing muscle mass with aging may increase the risk of cognitive decline. So, it’s critical to maintain muscle mass! 

The studies mentioned above just scratch the surface. If you’d like to dig deeper, ACE, a personal training certification, did a great job rounding up more convincing research here

The bottom line is that strength training can improve memory, heighten focus, and enhance mental resilience. It also keeps you strong, capable and independent, thus improving your quality of life. 

And I will stress again, if you’re not strength training now, it’s NEVER too late! 

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