Home » Brain Fitness »Cognitive Training »Diet »exercise »Memory »Physical fitness » Currently Reading:

Strength Training for Brain Fitness

Lots of research has shown that aerobic fitness may be a key to brain fitness. Now a new study suggests that strength training may be helpful, too.

A recent study in the Archives of Neurology shows that muscle strength is related to risk for Alzheimer’s disease. In a group of persons with an average age of 80 years, those with the greatest muscle strength had the lowest chance of developing Alzheimer’s over up to six years. About one in five of the people with the lowest muscle strength (the lowest 10%) developed Alzheimer’s disease over the study follow up, while fewer than one in ten of those with the greatest strength (the highest 10%) developed Alzheimer’s in the same time – about half the risk.

Does this mean that weight training will keep you from getting Alzheimer’s or other memory problems? It’s not clear. Endurance training has been shown to increase brain-derived neurotrophic growth factor (BDNF), a substance that facilitates the growth of new nerve cells in the brain. This increase in BDNF may be part of the reason why exercise improves cognition. But a recent study of weight training with middle-aged men and women didn’t show any change in BDNF with weight training.

Given the association of mood, cognition, and loss of muscle tissue in frailty (see another blog post about frailty here), though, maintaining muscle mass through weight training may be an important way to maintain and improve physical and cognitive functioning.


Boyle PA, et al. (2009). Association of muscle strength with the risk of Alzheimer disease and rate of cognitive decline in community-dwelling older persons. Archives of Neurology, 66, 1339-1344.

Levinger I, et al. (2008). BDNF, metabolic risk factors, and resistance training in middle-aged individuals. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 40, 535-541.

Comment on this Article:

Brain Fitness

Fire Prevention Measures Around The House

As a continuation of the fire prevention advice we provided you with at a previous date, we are now going to discuss a few additional ways of preventing fires and fire-related accidents inside your house. Handle Your Smoke Detectors Carefully  Make sure your smoke detectors are properly verified at least …

Black Celeb Moms Joggling With Motherhood And Careers

If you have discovered black mom Jourdan Dunn’s secret on how to successfully joggle with motherhood and career obligations, you might have found a little inspiration for yourself. In case you’ve missed it, here’s a short recap: the gorgeous actress is a dedicated mom who puts her son first – …

Can You Resist Food Temptations When Dieting?

Bodybuilding, fitness, and all forms of workout in general go hand in hand with strict diets and eating habits. Foods rich in protein are at the core of building muscle mass; fruits and vegetables provide the body with the vitamins and minerals it needs during intensive workouts. But one of …

Strength Training and the Brain

Gray haired woman lifting weight

Lots of evidence points to the usefulness of aerobic exercise for maintaining and improving mental functioning (see a previous blog post here and an extensive review article here). It is not as clear, though, whether strength training has an effect. An article in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that even a …


Old book pen magnifier

Maria Konnikova posts an interesting article in this past Sunday’s New York Times on the effects of undivided attention and mindfulness. In her post, she links concentration to Sherlock Holmes (perhaps because that’s a link to her forthcoming book), but she provides a nice if brief review of some of …

RSS Worry and GAD Blog

  • 5 More Steps to Cope with Irritability
    This is a cross posting from my brain fitness blog. As it turns out, worry is probably bad for your brain fitness, so coping with worry not only can improve your mood but may also help improve your thinking and memory. Here the post: Irritability means letting small things that happen to all of us […]
  • Three Ways to Deal with Unconstructive Repetitive Thoughts
    Several researchers have shown that negative mood, anxiety, and distress can be associated with cognitive decline. Wilson and his colleague Patricia Boyle (both at Rush in Chicago) have shown with data from the Religious Orders Study that persons who are chronically distressed have a greater chance of cognitive decline. At the Cognitive Aging Summit (sponsor
  • Brain Fitness and The Mind of a Monk
    the contrast between Tibetan monks’ apparent calm, evident even on brain scans, and her own anxiety disorder. Ms. Warner says that she suffers from panic disorder,