“Train your biceps, cultivate your brain.”

‘Cognitive Decline’ is a common presenting anxiety in doctors’ offices all over the country.  People present themselves or loved ones to our office with concerns of knowledge changes, memory loss and forgetfulness, and/or changes in thought and judgment.  It is a surprisingly common complaint possibly in part due to our aging population, but I personally am hearing it from all age groups.

The reasons behind Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) are many as are the approaches to diagnoses and management. Interventions are also numerous in number, but let me provide a great intervention for anyone of any age: weight lifting. That’s right!  Train your biceps, cultivate your brain.

Exercise in general has been shown to improve cognitive performance, but a great study in Archives of Internal Medicine went a little further: researchers took a group of women age 70 to 80 with complaints of MCI and randomly allocated to twice-weekly sessions of resistance (weight training), aerobics, or balance and tone training. Those in the resistance group used machines and free weights, while those in the aerobic group followed an outdoor walking program. The balance and tone sessions consisted of stretching, range of motion and balance exercises, and relaxation techniques; the patients in this last group served as controls. The researchers found that women who lifted weights had significant improvements in memory tasks after 6 months, compared with women in a control group who worked on balance and stretching.  The women who worked on aerobic training saw their fitness improve but achieved no cognitive benefit, as compared with the control group.  Yet ANOTHER reason to hit the gym! 

Want to learn more information on how to achieve your optimum health? Check out Dr. Willey’s book, ‘What Does Your Doctor Look Like Naked’.
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