How strength training can help to ward off brain degeneration.

Why having some brawn can help your brain.

Having witnessed first hand the cruel, debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s disease on loved ones, seeing research that proposes practical ways that can help to slow or even halt brain degeneration is always going to catch my eye.

A research team the University of Sydney performed a clinical trial with people who had a mild cognitive impairment and thus deemed at a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Mild cognitive impairment is the decline in memory, thinking skills and day to day tasks, and is considered a strong risk factor for future development of dementia.

Participants were randomly selected to perform either brain training on a computer, strength training or a combination of the two for six months and then their regular activities for a further 12 months.

Findings showed that strength training led to overall improvements to cognitive performance and protection from degeneration in sub regions of the hippocampus within the brain. The hippocampus is a structure that plays a major role in learning and memory.


Scans show slower degeneration

Through MRI scans performed during the study, it was shown that those who performed no strength training experienced up to a 4% shrinkage in the hippocampus sub regions, whereas those that performed strength training only experienced a maximum of 2% shrinkage, with some areas experiencing no shrinkage at all.



We’ve known for many years how important strength training is for the ageing population to maintain musculoskeletal health, balance and fall prevention. We can now see it’s importance with brain health and cognition too.