In the United States, about 20% of seniors who suffer a hip fracture will die within a year.
Teresa Liu-Ambrose, PhD, has been investigating the impact of women’s weight training for helping seniors decrease the rate of fractures out of her laboratory at the Center for Hip Health and Mobility, Vancouver General Hospital.
Now she has found that not only does weight training build up muscle and bone health (as you might expect) but it also improves cognitive functioning.
According to international statistics, one-third of all seniors who get admitted to hospitals with hip fractures also have some kind of cognitive impairment, so this could be very important.
Building on her prior research, Liu-Ambrose et al. randomly assigned 155 women between the ages of 65 and 75 to two groups. The first group did resistance training using dumbbells and weight machines, while the second group did balance and toning exercises of similar duration (Archives of Internal Medicine.)
A year later, the women assigned to the strength training group had improved their cognitive functioning by 10.9 to 12.6 percent. The toning group actually experienced a slight decline in their cognitive functioning (about 0.5%).
Improvements to the strength training group included heightened ability to make decisions, resolve conflicts and improve focus.
Exercise is just one step (albeit an important one) toward ensuring that our seniors maintain cognitive functioning as long as possible.
If you find this work exciting, you might also like our 6-part teleseminar series, The New Brain Science series.
Each webinar, we interview an expert, drilling down into how we can harness the power of neuroplasticity. This has given us the exciting opportunity to look at new ideas that were not even considered 3 years ago, ideas that will change our current practices in health and mental health care.
You can sign up for the series here.