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Build a Better Brain through Building Muscle Strength

written by Joel Furhman, M.D. September 17, 2019
Build a Better Brain through Building Muscle Strength

Exercising to improve muscle strength is not only good for keeping your body in shape, but it’s also good for the brain and may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. As part of Australia’s Alzheimer’s research project, they conducted The Study of Mental and Resistance Training (SMART) to determine whether strength training and/or computer brain training exercises could help people at risk for Alzheimer’s disease improve their brain function and minimize that risk. Although previous research has shown benefits of aerobic exercise (such as walking, biking, or jogging) for preventing Alzheimer’s disease, there has been much less research on resistance (strength) exercise.

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

The SMART trial studied 100 participants between the ages of 55 and 86 with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI involves memory and thinking problems, but it does not affect the normal activities of everyday life. However, MCI may be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, a pre-dementia condition. Someone with MCI has about a 30 percent chance of progressing to Alzheimer’s over the course of 10 years.1 The SMART trial is part of the ongoing search for treatments that could restore and maintain brain function in people with MCI, to reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

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