MONDAY, Oct. 24, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Boosting muscle strength may boost brain function in people with mild memory and thinking problems, a new study finds.
The research included 100 people aged 55 to 86. All had mild memory and thinking problems (mild cognitive impairment).
The study volunteers who did weight training twice a week for six months to at least 80 percent of their maximum strength showed significant improvements in mental function.
The benefits lasted for at least a year after their supervised weight-lifting sessions ended, the study showed.
The results were published Oct. 24 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
"What we found in this follow-up study is that the improvement in cognition [mental] function was related to their muscle strength gains," said study lead author Yorgi Mavros, of the faculty of health sciences at the University of Sydney, Australia.
"The stronger people became, the greater the benefit for their brain," Mavros added in a university news release.
The findings could help guide the type and intensity of exercise recommended for aging adults, the researchers said.
"The more we can get people doing resistance training like weight lifting, the more likely we are to have a healthier aging population," Mavros said.
"The key, however, is to make sure you are doing it frequently, at least twice a week, and at a high intensity so that you are maximizing your strength gains. This will give you the maximum benefit for your brain," Mavros explained.
The Alzheimer's Association has more about mild cognitive impairment.