Numerous studies have shown that aerobic exercise can be beneficial to the brain. But new evidence suggests that light weight lifting at least twice a week can have positive effects on the brain as well.
A new study from the University of British Columbia has shown that weight training may slow age-related brain shrinking and prevent white matter lesions in older women. The 65 to 75-year-old women in the study who lifted weights twice per week displayed significantly less age-related shrinkage and white matter damage than the women who hadn’t done so.
Signs of an aging brain aren’t as readily obvious as aging skin, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. Most brains show their age late in life via weakened thinking, memory and general cognitive abilities, but they actually begin their decline in middle age, when they begin developing age-related holes and lesions in their white matter.
Exercise is the best weapon against decreasing white matter, and according to this new study, that beneficial exercise includes weight training. Exercise helps the brain create new connections between neurons, which helps with learning, memory and critical thought. Plus, it makes the brain more adaptable, which has proven to help prevent and treat obesity, cancer, depression, decline in cognition and numerous neurological disorders.
Weight lifting, also called strength or resistance training, is an excellent exercise alternative for people who are unable to perform aerobic exercises such as running, power walking or swimming. It’s also a perfect anaerobic supplement to those exercises.
Some great weight-lifting exercises to start with include free weight exercises, resistance machine workouts, push-ups and leg squats. If you’d like to learn more about how to incorporate weight lifting into your weekly exercise routine, check out our fitness classes.