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How to work out for a brawny body and better brain
Okay, when you’re lifting those weights at the gym, you’re probably not thinking about how you’re helping your brain…
But, maybe you should be.
That’s because according to a new study, strong muscles lead to a stronger brain.
In fact, the study led by the University of Sydney in Australia has found that gradually increasing muscle strength through activities such as weightlifting actually improves your cognitive function.
Let’s take a look at the research…
The stronger you are, the better your brain
The trial looked at progressive resistance training – such as weightlifting – and the functioning of the brain in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) between 55-68 years old. Patients with MCI have a higher risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
For the trial, MCI patients were divided into four groups and assigned a range of activities. These included a combination of resistance exercise – including weightlifting – and placebo resistance in the form of seated stretching. Activities also included cognitive training and its placebo equivalent.
In the trial, those assigned to the resistance exercise group did weightlifting sessions twice a week for 6 months, working to at least 80 percent of their peak strength. The weights were gradually increased as participants got stronger, all the while maintaining their peak strength at 80 percent.
While the cognitive training and placebo activities did not yield cognitive improvements, the results from the resistance training were impressive…
In fact, the study demonstrated a directly proportional relationship between improvement in brain function and improvement in muscle strength.
According to the lead author of the study, Dr. Yorgi Mavros, “What we found in this follow-up study is that the improvement in cognition function was related to their muscle strength gains. The stronger people became, the greater the benefit for their brain.”
How to add strength training to your life
With the results of this study, it’s clear that if you want to maintain a strong, healthy brain for life, adding in strenght training is vital.
You can do it at home or at the gym, even at the park. The key is to create resistance to make your muscles stronger, whether you use weights or just the weight of your body.
While using the weight machines at the gym is pretty much self-explanatory, you may need a little more help getting started at home.
Here are a few good options to begin with (Shoot for 12 to 15 reps each):
- Wall Squats – To start, stand with your back against a wall and walk your feet forward until they’re slightly in front of your hips, placing your hands on your thighs. Squat until your thighs are parallel to ground and then rise up onto the balls of your feet as you reach arms overhead. Return to your starting position and repeat. Here’s a great beginner’s squats video…
- Press Up – You’ll want a set of small dumbbells for this exercise. You can start with as little as two pounds and work your way up. To perform the exercise, sit in a chair or stand while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Extend arms at your sides, palms facing forward. Curl the weights toward your shoulders and then rotate your palms away from you as you press dumbbells straight up overhead. Reverse the motion to return to starting position.
- Walking Lunges – Stand upright, feet together with a dumbbell in each hand. Take a controlled step forward with your right leg, curling the dumbbells to your shoulders and keeping your elbows close to your body. Lower your hips toward the floor and bend both knees (almost at 90-degree angles). Your back knee should come close but never touch the ground. Your front knee should be directly over your ankle. Push off with your left foot and bring it forward to your starting position, lowering the dumbbells to your side. This is one rep. Next step forward and repeat with your left leg. Repeat for one minute. Try this painless lunge video…
- Kneeling Tripod Row – Hold a dumbbell in each hand and get on all fours with your wrists under shoulders. Extend your right leg behind you. Bend your left elbow, drawing the weight toward your left side. Lower weight and repeat 12 to 15 times then switch sides.
Your brain is the most important organ in your body. It stores your memories, your personality, your life. Preserve it and keep it strong through strength training.
Editor’s note: While you’re doing all the right things to protect your brain as you age, make sure you don’t make the mistake 38 million Americans do every day — by taking a drug that robs them of an essential brain nutrient! Click here to discover the truth about the Cholesterol Super-Brain!
- Stronger muscles lead to stronger brain — Medical News Today