Health Benefits of Workouts for Cognitive Function

Most people know that one of the health benefits of working out is larger, stronger muscles. But did you know that it can also reduce the risk of cognitive decline? That’s what the findings are of researchers from the McGill University Health Center and the School of Human Nutrition.

Published on July 1, 2022, in JAMA Network Open, the study examined the potential link between muscle mass and cognitive decline in adults ages 65 to 86. Researchers used data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging to measure the performance of 8,279 older adults in memory, executive function, and psychomotor speed, with an initial baseline and a follow-up after three years.

The study concluded that “the presence of low muscle mass measured by DXA was significantly and independently associated with faster subsequent executive function decline over 3 years among adults aged at least 65 years.” In layman’s terms, participants who had lower muscle mass saw much bigger drops in skills such as planning, focusing, recalling information, and multitasking. You can read the full study by clicking here.

Working Out for Brain Health

These findings are significant in the ongoing research on aging, cognition, and physical fitness. Alzheimer’s Disease International estimates that as of 2020, more than 55 million people worldwide have dementia – and this number could reach 139 million by 2050. Most cases of dementia develop in people ages 65 and older, with the risk increasing even further as people again. By the time a person is diagnosed with dementia, it appears the effects are irreversible.

But based on this study, it appears muscle mass is something that could reduce the risk of developing dementia. Study leader Stéphanie Chevalier refers to this as a “modifiable factor” – in other words, one that a person has some control over. The study also found the association between muscle mass and cognitive function was independent of other fitness-related factors such as muscle strength.

What it Means for Fitness Enthusiasts

It’s long been known that working out is vital for both physical and mental health. Beyond making you stronger, working out can improve emotional well-being and relieve symptoms of anxiety, stress, and ADHD. Previous studies have also found that exercise can change the actual structure of one’s brain for the better.

The newly discovered link between muscle mass and cognitive performance in the elderly is one more potential health benefit of working out. While it won’t reverse the effects of significant cognitive decline that has already occurred, the early evidence indicates that strength training and resistance exercise may help prevent the decline from occurring in the first place.

Even if you’ve never lifted a weight or done a squat in your life, it’s not too late to start. PowerBlock adjustable dumbbells are the original adjustable dumbbells that let you work out at home. We also offer kettlebells, battle ropes, barbells, and many other supplies backed by an industry-leading warranty. Be good to both your body and your mind by making PowerBlock part of your fitness journey.

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