Weightlifting may boost memory
Doing resistance training for just 20 minutes per day may help improve long-term memory, according to a new study.
Scientists at Georgia Tech recruited 46 participants, including 29 women and 17 men, and randomly assigned them into two groups for a two-part study. In the first part, the volunteers looked at a series of 90 images on a computer screen. The photos had been classified as “positive,” “neutral” and “negative,” and the volunteers were asked to try to remember as many pictures as possible.
In the second part of the study, the volunteers were again randomly assigned to two groups. The first group, called the “active” group, was seated at a leg extension resistance exercise machine and was instructed to extend and contract each leg 50 times at their maximum effort. The second group, called the “passive” group, was seated at the same machine but was told to sit and allow the machine to move their legs for them. During this part of the study, the researchers monitored the participants’ blood pressure and heart rate and collected saliva samples.
Two days after the exercise part of the study, the participants were again given the photo memory test, but the original 90 images were mixed in with 90 new images.
The researchers found that the active group was able to remember about 60 percent of the images, whereas the passive group was able to remember about 50 percent. They also found that the participants in the active group had increased levels of alpha amylase in their saliva–a marker of norepinephrine, a hormone that previous research has suggested that may improve memory.
The study’s findings, published in the journal Acta Psychologica, suggest that forms of resistance exercise–also known as strength training or weight training–may help improve memory. The findings add more evidence to findings that exercise may help prevent memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease, researchers said.