HealthDay News — According to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, high-intensity progressive resistance training (PRT) results in significant improvements in cognitive function, muscle strength and aerobic capacity, with cognitive benefits mediated by strength gains in adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Yorgi Mavros, PhD, from the University of Sydney, and colleagues conducted a randomized trial involving 100 community-dwelling older adults (aged ≥55 years) with MCI. 

Participants were randomized to PRT and cognitive training or sham exercise 2 to 3 days per week for 6 months.

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The researchers found that, compared with sham exercise, there were significantly greater increases in upper, lower and whole body strength and in the percentage change in aerobic capacity (VO2peak) with PRT. There were significant associations for higher strength scores, but not greater VO2peak, with improvements in cognition (P<.05). 

The effect of PRT on Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale show cognitive subscale improvements and global domain, but not executive domain, was significantly mediated via greater lower body strength.

“High-intensity PRT results in significant improvements in cognitive function, muscle strength and aerobic capacity in older adults with MCI. Strength gains, but not aerobic capacity changes, mediate the cognitive benefits of PRT,” the authors write. “Future investigations are warranted to determine the physiological mechanisms linking strength gains and cognitive benefits.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.


Mavros Y, et al. “Mediation Of Cognitive Function Improvements By Strength Gains After Resistance Training In Older Adults With Mild Cognitive Impairment: Outcomes Of The Study Of Mental And Resistance Training”. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2016. doi: 10.1111/jgs.14542. [Epub ahead of print]

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