A growing body of research now indicates that strength training is good for your brain. As one example, Harvard Medical School Publishing references a study by a group of researchers in Australia that found strength training can improve cognitive reasoning and memory.
Probably like many of you, when I first heard about resistance training’s potential impact on brain health, I was pretty surprised and wondered why I had not heard this earlier in life. I regretted all those times I had skipped lifting weights because I didn’t feel like it or I figured my exercise for the day was complete with cardio… I had not realized I was making bad choices for my long term brain health.
Here are the quick facts about the benefits of strength training for the brain:
- Improves cognitive function: Strength training has been found to improve cognitive function, including memory, attention, and executive function. This may be due to the increased levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a protein that promotes the growth and survival of neurons in the brain. Higher levels of BDNF are associated with improved cognitive function and a reduced risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
- Reduces inflammation: Strength training has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, which is linked to several chronic diseases, including cognitive decline. By reducing inflammation, strength training may help to protect the brain from damage and improve cognitive function.
- Improves sleep: Strength training has been shown to improve the quality of sleep, which is essential for brain health. Good sleep is associated with improved cognitive function, while poor sleep has been linked to an increased risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
- Reduces stress and anxiety: Strength training has been found to reduce stress and anxiety levels, which can have a positive impact on brain health. Chronic stress and anxiety can damage the brain and impair cognitive function, so reducing these symptoms can help to protect the brain.
The XX Brain, by Dr. Lisa Mosconi (with a compelling intro by Maria Shriver) is one of the books that motivated me to take care of my brain in midlife. It’s a must-listen (while lifting and moving).
And if you are looking for a convenient way to squeeze in some resistance training for brain health, consider getting or gifting an Obshay for to lift between work calls and other Movable Moments at home. Here are some micro workouts to try with Obshay.