JAMA / Archives – One year of once- or twice-weekly resistance training (weight training) appears to improve attention and conflict resolution skills among older women. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, Ph.D., P.T., of Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, and colleagues studied 155 women age 65 to 75. Participants were randomly assigned to participate in resistance training once (54 women) or twice (52 women) weekly, whereas 49 women in a control group participated in twice-weekly balance and tone training.

After one year, women in both resistance training groups significantly improved their cognition scores on tests of selective attention (maintaining mental focus) and conflict resolution. The program simultaneously improved muscular function in the women. Resistance training, or weight training, may soon become a common recommendation for those involved in women’s health, anti-aging public health and preventive medicine.

“This has important clinical implications because cognitive impairment is a major health problem that currently lacks a clearly effective pharmaceutical therapy and because resistance training is not widely adopted by seniors,” the authors write. “The doses of resistance training we used in this study fall within those recommended by the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for seniors” (Arch Intern Med. 2010; 170[2]:170-178).