(HealthDay News) – For senior women with mild cognitive impairment, twice-weekly resistance training (RT) for six months is associated with improved cognition and brain plasticity compared with balance and tone (BAT) exercises.

Lindsay S. Nagamatsu, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and associates conducted a six-month randomized trial involving 77 women (ages 70–80 years) classified with probable mild cognitive impairment. Women were allocated to 60-minute twice-weekly RT (26 women), BAT (27 women), or aerobic training (24 women), and performance on the Stroop Test (executive test of selective attention/conflict resolution) was assessed.

Compared with women in the BAT group, the researchers found that women in the RT group had significantly improved performance on the Stroop Test (P=0.04) and the associative memory task (P=0.03). During the encoding and recall of associations, functional changes were seen in three regions of the cortex in the RT group. Compared with the BAT group, the aerobic training group experienced significantly improved general balance and mobility and cardiovascular capacity. There were no significant differences in adverse events among the groups.

“In senior women with subjective memory complaints, six months of twice-weekly RT improved selective attention/conflict resolution, associative memory, and regional patterns of functional brain plasticity compared with twice-weekly BAT exercises,” the authors write. “We provide novel evidence that RT can benefit multiple domains in those at risk for dementia.”

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