The Grapevine

Can Weight Training Help Improve Memory?

Resistance training and building muscle mass is on every gym goers agenda, but an added benefit has recently been proven by researchers at the University of Missouri’s Department of Biomedical Sciences. Their research paper, published in The Journal of Applied Physiology in July, highlights the recovery of brain function in rodents who were subjected to six weeks of weight training. 

The rodents had to climb a three foot long ladder with weight pellets attached to them. The animals were rewarded with Froot Loops on completing the challenge, but however it did not interfere with their motivation. Muscle mass had gradually increased, thus showed that the weight training was working, according to a recent piece by The New York Times. 

PhD candidate in the University of Missouri in Columbia, Taylor Kelty, along with his colleagues, injected another group of rats with a substance called intraventricular lipopolysaccharide (LPS) that stimulates inflammation and induces mild cognitive impairment, similar to early dementia. Half of this group was made to do the weight training, and the mass of pellets attached to their bags increased correspondingly. 

When five weeks had passed, three groups including a control group that was not interfered with were set free in an illuminated maze with a dark chamber being the final destination. Rats are known to be attracted to dark places. Once they repeatedly tried to locate the dark chamber, they aim for it more easily the next time. 

All the groups of rats performed differently. The first group that was not fed the substance inducing dementia was the most efficient at locating the chamber. The second group, despite cognitive impairment, caught up with the control group and a few rats even performed with better speed and accuracy. The last group with mild cognitive impairment and without weight training utterly underperformed and lagged behind when compared to others. 

In the group of rats that accomplished finding the chamber with induced cognitive impairment, the scientists studied their memory centers. It indicated that the brains of these rats were remodelling themselves and expanding neuro-plasticity based on the genetic markers and proteins they had observed. 

Weight training Researchers have discovered that rodents which were subjected to 6 six weeks of weight training had new brain cells. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

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