Resistance Exercises Said to be Most Effective in Stemming Cognitive Decline

Psychology Today reports that researchers have found exercise to be “the most effective and significant intervention” a person can take to ward off or delay cognitive decline. The World Health Organization specifically recommends resistance exercises for older adults. Healthy diet, regular physical activity, good sleep hygiene, and stress management all remain important, but the report concluded that “a recent review of more than 60 studies from around the world found that, of all these ‘lifestyle medicines,’ exercise is likely the most effective intervention.” Resistance training includes any of the many exercises that involve pulling or pushing against the resistance of another object, including your own body. Resistance exercises include squats, chair squats, leg lifts, leg extensions, hip extensions (deadlifts), knee lifts, step-ups, calf raises, lunges, push-ups, wall push-ups, chin-ups, planks, side planks, rowing, and bench pressing. Add-on aids, such as elastic resistance bands, are often used to add more physical tension to resistance exercises. Such exercises are said to reduce inflammation and the formation of amyloid plaque that damages brain cells — both of which can disrupt language, reasoning, metabolism, and social behaviors. Resistance exercises also have a positive effect on bone density, balance, muscle strength, and overall physical function. Experts do advise consulting with your health care provider, physical therapist, or licensed or certified trainer before attempting any new exercises. A good physical therapist or licensed trainer can adapt most standard exercises to fit your specific needs and prevent injury.

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