The process of aging is dynamic and progressive, and will result in the deterioration of different abilities, including multiple cognitive functions such as information-processing speed, reasoning and multiple memory formation. Aging also has a negative association with the volume of different brain regions and structures, which are involved in cognition, and therefore a decline is associated with a cognitive decline (Chang et al., 2012).
There has been research into the benefits of exercise and its effect on mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which applies to individuals in the intermediate stage between normal cognitive function and dementia (Singh et al., 2014), and according to the research resistance training, and more specifically progressive resistance training may alleviate or prevent cognitive decline as well as having a positive effect on lifestyle factors (Chang et al., 2012).
Many molecular mechanics have been proposed as the link between exercise and cognition, however Insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) has been singled out as the main candidate factor that specifically connects resistance training and cognition (Chang et al., 2012). IGF-1 is one of the most important hormones for growth and development in humans, and has been shown to prevent the loss of brain tissue (Chang et al., 2012).A IGF-1 deficiency has been linked to aging in the brain, cognitive dysfunction and incident dementia older adults (Mavros et al., 2016).
Multiple studies have shown that when undertaking resistance training there is an increase in IGF-1 levels. In a study where resistance training was undertaken by older adults 3 days a week for 25 weeks, IGF-1 levels increased by 20% in the first 13 weeks and the levels were then maintained for 13-25 weeks (Chang et al., 2012). In the SMART (Study of Mental and Resistance Training) study, it was demonstrated that six months of progressive resistance training significantly improved global cognition function in individuals with MCI, with benefits being maintained over a further 18 months after ceasing training (Mavros et al., 2016).
Unfortunately cognitive decline is a characteristic of aging, and older adults with MCI are at a higher risk of further cognitive decline, as well as decreased cognition being associated with decline in strength (Mavros et al., 2016). However, resistance training has been shown to be an effective tool at improving cognitive function via IGF-1 but also it has been shown to improve muscle mass, increase strength and power, as well as decreasing risk factors associated with decreased bone mass, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and osteo-arthritis (Chang et al., 2012).
How we can help
Here at Complete Health we pride ourselves on being able to individualise a proper resistance program, which according to (Chang et al., 2012) should be the primary concern to achieve maximum results in improving cognitive function, as well as an improvement in confidence, balance and ability in activities of daily living. Some of the things that are considered, but aren’t limited to include;
- Muscle action – Exercise selection and order
- Workout structure – Load, volumes and rests
- Training frequencey – Progressive overload
Please feel free to get in touch to see if we can help and we look forward to a positive relationship in the future.
By Dr. Nicole Carrick (Osteopath)Leave a reply →