Pumping Iron Can Help Boost Brain Function
No matter your age, the benefits of aerobic exercise on cognitive function are well established — getting the blood pumping is one path to a healthy heart and brain. But brain health also can benefit from pumping iron. Weight training helps build muscle strength as well as cognitive strength, according to recent research.
Get Fit For Life: Exercise & Physical Activity for Healthy Aging1
It can literally build gray matter.
Exercise with weights and resistance bands has been shown to increase production of brain proteins associated with enhanced cognitive function and brain plasticity, researchers have found. The activity also can improve one’s mood and coherence, as well as lower levels of stress and fatigue.
You don’t need to look like a professional bodybuilder, or spend a lot of money on expensive equipment, to get the brain benefit of resistance training. Pharmacists can recommend a host of easy activities to start building both muscle and cognitive function.
The National Institute on Aging offers many great tips in its Exercise and Physical Activity Guide. These include:
- Start with one-pound weights and gradually move to heavier weights.
- If you don’t want to buy weights, use common items such as soup cans or bottled water.
- Keep a set of weights next to your easy chair or sofa, so you can lift weights while watching TV.
- Aim to do 10 to 15 repetitions for each exercise.
- Even simply wall pushups can strengthen arms, shoulders, and chest.
In addition, many retail pharmacies sell equipment for resistance and strength training, such as weights, resistance bands and grips. Advice for pharmacists: Next time your patients ask how they can improve their mental function, suggest they add weight training to their daily routine.