Resistance training and brain health
How to help the brain not age, how to preserve steadily declining cognitive function with age?
We often oppose physical activity and cognitive performance, but this is outdated thinking. There used to be a stereotype that being smart was necessarily unsporty, weak, and athletes weren't brilliantly smart.
Now views have changed - what makes the body healthy and athletic makes the brain healthy and strong. Physically active people perceive information faster, learn and memorize quicker. Exercise stimulates the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins and may play an important role in reducing systemic inflammation.
What type of physical activity is most beneficial to the brain?
First of all, any kind of activity is better than no activity at all.
And while any activity that is good for the body is usually good for the brain as well, there are some types of physical activity that are better for the brain than others. What type of workout should you choose if you can't devote a lot of time to a variety of workouts?
We're talking about strength training, which has unique properties that make it ideal for improving brain function.
Let's take a look at why this is the case.
Strength training and insulin resistance
As we age or become overweight, insulin sensitivity decreases. Alzheimer's disease is referred to as type 3 diabetes. There is a direct correlation between insulin resistance and cognitive decline. Let's trace how our body uses glucose for energy. The brain is the main consumer of energy. Muscles store sugar and carbohydrates in the form of glycogen. If you have built muscle, the ability to utilize or at least store glucose is greater. There is a study in which obese people had significantly improved insulin sensitivity after strength training exercises. And as we know this is favorable for the brain as well.
Resistance training and hormons
A well-built muscle is more than just endurance and strength. It's also the hormonal profile that exists in your body as it builds muscle. The brain sends signals that tell your body to be stronger and build muscle. This hormonal profile is very much like a young man's hormonal profile - it's increased testosterone, balanced estrogen, progesterone, insulin, good insulin sensitivity, it's upregulation of androgen receptors, growth hormone receptors, healthier use of cortisol.
While exercising, the brain is learning and building new neural connections
The benefits of strength training are not only that body volumes come to normal, muscle mass increases, built muscles put stress on bones, which makes bones stronger.
Our central nervous system is trained when it learns new skills, physical skills. Resistance training is one type of training where you can perform any type of movement, you have an almost unlimited number of exercises. This is training the proprioceptive ability, that is, training the ability to understand the position of the body in space and time. It is not constantly repeating the same movements, such as cycling, running, swimming. With strength training you can move in all axes.
In rehab centers, if there are any exercises given by specialists to people who have had serious injuries, it is strength training. Strength training is suitable for anyone without limitations. Maybe you can't run, ride a bike, but you can always do strength training.
All forms of physical activity increase neuronal growth factor in the brain, but strength training has the unique ability to cause this on a consistent basis. It's also the only form of exercise that not only slows the growth of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain, but also stops them from growing and even causes a reduction in the number of plaques already present.
Strength training is not only about shaping your body, but it is also key to brain health.