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Strength Training May Give Boost to Seniors' Brains
Date:4/23/2012

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, April 23 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly women noticing the first signs of memory decline might ward off full-blown dementia by engaging in routine strength training, new research suggests.

But while supervised weight-lifting seemed to boost mental functioning among those struggling with incipient memory loss, aerobics-based activity programs did not confer a similar mental health benefit, the study team found.

"Most studies have looked at aerobic training, but this study compares both aerobic and strength training," explained study co-author Teresa Liu-Ambrose, an assistant professor in the department of physical therapy at the University of British Columbia. "And among people who don't yet have dementia but are already at a high risk in terms of mild memory and executive function impairment, our study shows that strength training, but not aerobics training, does have benefits for cognition."

Liu-Ambrose, also an investigator at the university's Center for Hip Health and Mobility and the Brain Research Center, and her colleagues outlined their findings in the April 23 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The authors noted that dementia is a huge public health concern, with a new case diagnosed somewhere in the world every 7 seconds.

Among the elderly, mild "cognitive," or mental, impairment is viewed as an indicator of future full-blown dementia risk, as well as a chance to perhaps intervene with some form of treatment that might lower that risk.

Previously, the study team found that a year of twice-weekly resistance (strength) classes seemed to boost overall cognitive capacity among mentally healthy elderly women.

This time, the team focused on women between 70 and 80 years old who had complained of memory difficulties and were deemed to have "probable" mild cognitive impairment.

For six months, the women engaged in 60-minute cl
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