How lifting weights can improve mild cognitive impairment

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a condition in which someone has minor problems with cognitive activities, such as memory or thinking. It is often considered as a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

A research study by the University of Sydney found that doing regular resistance exercise using weights can help keep your brain healthy. They studied 100 people aged between 55 – 86 with MCI and divided them into four groups, one taking part in regular resistance exercise – lifting weights twice a week for six months.

The study revealed that an improvement in cognition function was related to muscle strength gains and the stronger people became, the greater the benefit for their brain.

Dr Yorgi Mavros, from the University of Sydney in Australia, said: “The more we can get people doing resistance training like weightlifting, the more likely we are to have a healthier ageing population.

“The key however is to make sure you are doing it frequently, at least twice a week, and at a high intensity so that you are maximising your strength gains. This will give you the maximum benefit for your brain.”

Not everyone with MCI will go on to definitely develop dementia or Alzheimer’s and weightlifting won’t prevent these diseases, however looking after our ageing bodies is extremely important.

We have previously blogged about the importance of exercise for people getting older and how certain types of exercise such as walking, Pilates and dancing can be beneficial, but if none of those take your fancy, why not give weightlifting a go? But don’t worry, we’re not talking about lifting heavy barbells and dumbbells, resistance can be built up gradually, starting out using small weights or even things you can find around the home such as tins from your kitchen cupboard.