Yet another benefit to lifting weights: it can make you smarter, according to a 2016 study.
Lifting weights is awesome; few other activities can present you with so many benefits spanning over so many areas.
Lifting weights is a mental, physical, and social panacea that makes you feel awesome in the process.
But did you know it could also make you smarter?
And no, it’s not just the corresponding brain-healthy diet that most lifters consume, either.
Lifting Weights Can Make You Smarter
The University of Sydney led a study on sufferers of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) where they found that increased muscle strength correlated with improved cognitive function, according to the Hindustan Times.
The definition of MCI in this context are those who can still live independently yet experience cognitive issues such as memory loss.
MCI is accepted as a precursor to Alzheimer’s, and, as we’ve written in the past, additional evidence appears to support these finding as Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs) have been shown to combat Alzheimer’s.
Findings from the Study of Mental and Resistance Training (SMART) trial indicated a positive causal link between muscle growth as a response to training stimulus and improved brain function in subjects over 55 with MCI.
SMART was a randomized, double-blind trial involving 100 community-dwelling adults with MCI, aged between 55 and 86, according to the Hindustan Times.
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In the study, the subjects were divided into 4 groups doing either the following: resistance exercise and computerized cognitive training; resistance exercise and a placebo computerized training (watching nature videos); brain training and a placebo exercise program (seated stretching/calisthenics); or placebo physical exercise and placebo cognitive training to ascertain whether cognitive ability was significantly impacted by any of the preceding activities.
Participants doing resistance exercise prescribed two weight lifting sessions every week for six months, with a goal to work up to at least 80 per cent of their one rep max.
The subjects on the resistance training program would use progressive overload to reevaluate their one rep max and corresponding weight loads throughout the study.
“What we found in this follow-up study is that the improvement in cognition function was related to their muscle strength gains,” said Yorgi Mavros, a researcher at Sydney University who took part in the study.
“The stronger people became, the greater the benefit for their brain,” said Mavros.
Another study from the same team reportedly found that cognitive ability significantly improved after weight training, whereas brain teasing exercises failed to have any positive effect on cognitive function.
Aside from well-documented anti-ageing benefits, it can also protect your brain from ageing, thus making you smarter in the long run.
“The more we can get people doing resistance training like weight lifting, the more likely we are to have a healthier ageing population,” said 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 maximizing your strength gains. This will give you the maximum benefit for your brain,” said Mavros.
If you want to start lifting weights (to get smarter) and don’t know where to begin, try this program bundle that has everything you need to get started.
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