Scientists: Do this exercise twice a week for a better brain

New research by Australian scientists shows what exercise can make some people more intelligent and prevent dementia.  

Engaging in regular weightlifting could actually make your brain work better and prevent dementia, concludes new research by Australian scientists. As about 135 million people are estimated to develop dementia by 2050, the study’s findings are key in ensuring healthier brain function in the population.


The researchers focused on 100 people aged 55 to 86 with “mild cognitive impairment” (MCI) who were asked to do weight lifting and brain training. MCI is considered a precursor to developing Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. 

In 2014, the same team published a paper outlining how cognition skills improve as a result of weight training. The benefits lasted even 12 months after that study concluded. 

“What we found in this follow-up study is that the improvement in cognition function was related to their muscle strength gains. The stronger people became, the greater the benefit for their brain,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Yorgi Mavros, of Sydney University. 

Twice a week, over a six month period, the study’s participants worked with weights that were 80% as heavy as the max they could lift. The stronger they got, the more weight they lifted, sticking to the 80% rule.

Subsequent MRI scans of the study's subjects showed an increase in certain areas of their brains.

While future studies will determine whether this holds true for people of any age group, the positive results encouraged Dr. Mavros to state a general recommendation for all.

“The more we can get people doing resistance training like weight lifting, the more likely we are to have a healthier ageing population,” said Dr. Mavros. “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.”

To build on their findings, the researchers are planning further studies.

“The next step now is to determine if the increases in muscle strength are also related to increases in brain size that we saw,” said the study’s senior author Professor Maria Fiatarone Singh, geriatrician at University of Sydney. “In addition, we want to find the underlying messenger that links muscle strength, brain growth, and cognitive performance, and determine the optimal way to prescribe exercise to maximise these effects.” 

The Study of Mental and Resistance Training (SMART) trial was conducted by University of Sydney researchers in collaboration with the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) at University of New South Wales and the University of Adelaide.

You can read the study here, in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society.

What's worse than drug addiction? The cruelty of drug treatments.

Drug treatment centers pose potential threats to drug addicts.

Videos
  • Many drug treatment centers are run as for-profit institutions. Making a buck off of treating people's addictions often runs counter to actually helping addicts.
  • Some Chinese drug centers are experimenting with removing an addict's nucleus accumbens, which saps them of their ability to feel pleasure.
  • The solution to drug addiction may be creating better drugs to be addicted to, says author and journalist Maia Szalavitz.
Keep reading Show less

Why modern men are losing their testosterone

Research has shown that men today have less testosterone than they used to. What's happening?

Flickr user Tom Simpson
Sex & Relationships
  • Several studies have confirmed that testosterone counts in men are lower than what they used to be just a few decades ago.
  • While most men still have perfectly healthy testosterone levels, its reduction puts men at risk for many negative health outcomes.
  • The cause of this drop in testosterone isn't entirely clear, but evidence suggests that it is a multifaceted result of modern, industrialized life.
Keep reading Show less

"Hi-tech" Russian robot turns out to be a man in a suit

The Russian robot named "Boris", promoted as hi-tech by state tv, was revealed to be an actor.

Technology & Innovation
  • A state-owned channel showed a report on a "robot" which turned out to be an actor in a suit.
  • The robot "Boris" was supposed to be good at math and dancing.
  • Russian journalists who raised questions ultimately found out the truth.
Keep reading Show less