Want to have better cognitive function as you get older?


A new study has shown that the stronger that your muscles are, the better you can think!

This study was performed in Finland at the University of Eastern Finland in 2017 and is published in the European Geriatric Medicine Journal April 2017.Cognitive function means how you receive, store, process and use information.

A group of men and women with an average age of 66 were examined using

  1. Handgrip strength
  2. Three lower body exercises
  3. Two upper body exercises

People have been talking for years about the positive effects of exercise on all aspects of body function but this study investigated the role of muscle strength in cognitive function.

Another new finding is that different types of exercise affect different parts of your brain! In 2016 Liu-Ambrose at the University of British Colombia in Vancouver, Canada studied ways to help those with mild cognitive impairment to stop dementia from developing by using strength training. She found that just balancing and stretching or walking does not have the same effect on brain function as does lifting weights.

The Finnish study found that handgrip strength did not show an association between muscle strength and cognitive function. The only association was found when people performed leg extensions, leg flexion and leg press for the lower limb and chest press and seated row for the upper limb.

This is a preliminary study but it gives us something else to think about when we are thinking about things we can do to help us age well. We know that we should eat well; maintain a correct body weight for our height; exercise regularly; sleep well; relax more; keep active but it seems we should be lifting weights weekly in a controlled environment to help us think straight for longer into our old age!

These studies should help us to motivate ourselves to do more exercise when we really can’t be bothered .. it will be worth it in the long run – after all we don’t just want to live longer – we really want to live longer but to also feel healthy while we do so – right?

At the Avenue Clinic we don’t just keep your joints moving – we give you advice on the most appropriate exercise for you. Remember too that if you have muscles that feel tight – for example one hip is stiff or a shoulder is restricted when you move it overhead etc – it could well be a sign of muscle weakness. Weight training on weak muscles could therefore help you feel less joint stiffness as well as helping your brain function.

Stretching tight muscles can feel like it is helping but you may need to strengthen muscles too in order to get maximum benefit.

Strength training does not make muscles shorter and less flexible. Full range of strength training actually increases flexibility. Add strength training to your daily activities – you may be able to think better too!