• Greater upper and lower body strength was linked to better cognitive function
  • The latest findings adds to evidence that strength training helps stave off dementia

University of Eastern Finland researchers compared 338 men and women with an average age of 66. Their muscle strength was measured through handgrip strength and three lower body exercises – leg extension, leg flexion and leg press. Upper body strength was also tested through the chest press and seated row for the study published in European Geriatric Medicine.

The association of upper and lower body muscle strength with cognitive function was observed in the study. However, handgrip strength – something previously used to measure strength – was not associated with cognitive function. Handgrip strength is relatively easy and fast to measure, and it has been widely used as a measure of muscle strength in various studies, however, it isn’t a reliable measure. The findings suggest that it doesn’t provide the most accurate answer in terms of overall strength, lead author Heikki Pentikäinen said. She said measuring upper and lower body muscle strength may ‘better reflect the association between muscle strength and cognition’. Exercise is known to have various health benefits, and strength training is a way for everyone to increase muscle mass.

A study in Australia last year has shown that resistance weight training can boost brain function in seniors at increased risk of dementia. Researchers at the University of Sydney looked at the effects of the training on a group of 100 patients over 55 with mild cognitive impairment. A quarter of the patients were prescribed weight lifting sessions twice weekly for six months, working to at least 80 per cent of their peak strength. The team found that as the pensioners got stronger, their global cognition improved “significantly” after the resistance training.
And the physical training was shown to be more beneficial than brain training alone, and lasted for a year after the training ended.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4640472/Lift-weights-gym-don-t-want-dementia.html