Pumping Iron may increase Memory in Elderly Women

Cognitive decline is a problem facing the elderly people all over the world with statistics revealing that one new case of dementia is detected every seven seconds. Experts feel that the correct time to intervene and change the course of dementia in senior citizens is around the time when mild cognitive decline has just set in. Exercise has been known to improve the cognitive functions of the brain. It has been shown to decrease the cognitive decline as well as improve the functional brain plasticity in the elderly people- both healthy as well as those showing mild cognitive decline. Both aerobic and resistance training have shown promising results towards this end. However, there had been no study to compare the efficacy of both forms of exercises. A new study, published in the latest issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, shows that resistance training is more beneficial in improving executive in older women with mild cognitive decline.

The research was led by Teresa Liu- Ambrose and her colleagues from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. They enrolled 86 women between the age of 70 and 80 with subjective memory complaints. All the participants scored less than 26 out of 30 on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment. The women were randomly divided into three groups and were asked to undergo twice weekly sessions of either resistance training using machines and free weights, or aerobic exercise in the form of outdoor walking, or balancing and toning exercises. The third group acted as the control group.

At the end of the 6 months study period, the participants were subjected to Stroop test to measure their selective attention and conflict resolution. Functional MRI of 7 to 8 members of each group was also done to assess functional brain plasticity during the memory tests. The researchers found the group undergoing resistance training had a significant improvement in performance on the Stroop test as well as the associative memory task compared to the group undertaking aerobic exercises and the group undertaking balancing and toning exercises.

Date: 
Monday, April 30, 2012
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