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Benefits of Strength Training: Strong Body Linked to Strong Mind

There are many reasons to exercise. Protecting your brain health and optimizing your thinking ability is one of them. In fact, there's compelling evidence that exercise produces large cognitive gains, improves memory, and helps fight dementia.

For example, a 2010 study1 on primates revealed that regular exercise helped the monkeys learn new tasks twice as quickly as non-exercising monkeys, and researchers believe this might hold true for people as well.

Exercise helps protect and improve your brain function by:

        Improving and increasing blood flow to your brain
  •      Increasing production of nerve-protecting compounds
        Improving development and survival of neurons
        Reducing damaging plaques in your brain
        Altering the way these damaging proteins reside inside your brain, which appears to slow the development of Alzheimer's disease

Lifting Weights Boosts Memory

Strength training in particular has been shown to have a very beneficial impact on brain function and memory. In one study2 — featured in the video above — just 20 minutes of strength training was found to enhance long-term memory by about 10 percent.

In this experiment, 46 volunteers were randomly assigned to one of two groups — one active, and one passive. Initially, all of the participants viewed a series of 90 images. Afterward, they were asked to recall as many images as they could.

Next, the active group was told to do 50 leg extensions at personal maximum effort using a resistance exercise machine. The passive participants were asked to let the machine move their leg, without exerting any personal effort.

Two days later the participants returned to the lab, where they were shown a series of 180 pictures — the 90 original photos, plus 90 new ones. Interestingly, even though it was two days since they performed the leg extensions, those in the active group had markedly improved image recall.

The passive control group recalled about 50 percent of the original photos, whereas the active group remembered about 60 percent of the previously shown images.

As reported by The Epoch Times:3

"Our study indicates that people don't have to dedicate large amounts of time to give their brain a boost,' says Lisa Weinberg... who led the project.

Although the study used weight exercises... resistance activities such as squats or knee bends would likely produce the same results. In other words, exercises that don't require the person to be in good enough to shape to bike, run, or participate in prolonged aerobic exercises..."