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The effects of strength training on cognitive performance in elderly women

Authors Smolarek A, Ferreira L, Mascarenhas L, McAnulty S, Varela K, Dangui M, de Barros M, Utter A, Souza-Junior T

Received 9 December 2015

Accepted for publication 11 February 2016

Published 1 June 2016 Volume 2016:11 Pages 749—754


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker

André de Camargo Smolarek,1,2 Luis Henrique Boiko Ferreira,1,2 Luis Paulo Gomes Mascarenhas,1 Steven R McAnulty,3 Karla Daniele Varela,4 Mônica C Dangui,4 Marcelo Paes de Barros,5 Alan C Utter,3 Tácito P Souza-Junior2,3

1Department of Physical Education, Biochemistry of the Exercise Laboratory, Centro Oeste University State, Irati, Parana, 2Research Group on Metabolism, Nutrition and Strength Training, Department of Physical Education, Federal University of Parana, Curitiba, Brazil; 3Department of Health and Exercise Science, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, USA; 4Physical Education Department, Faculty Guairaca, Guarapuava, Parana, 5Institute of Physical Activity and Sports Science (ICAFE), Cruzeiro do Sul University, São Paulo, Brazil

Aging is a degenerative process marked by recognized functional, physiological, and metabolic impairments, such as dynapenia and diminished cognitive capacity. Therefore, the search for innovative strategies to prevent/delay these physiological and cognitive disorders is essential to guarantee the independence and life quality of an elderly population. The aim of this work is to verify the effect of a 12-week resistance exercise program on the general physical aptitude and cognitive capacities of elderly and sedentary women. Twenty-nine women (65.87±5.69 years) were divided into two groups. The control group was composed of eight elderly women who met the same inclusion criteria of the study and the strength training group was composed of 29 elderly women who were subjected to a resistance exercise program defined by 12 upper and lower limb exercises combined in 3×10 repetitions with 1-minute interval between repetitions and two resting minutes between exercises (three times/week). Weight loads were fixed between 60% and 75% of the apparent 1 repetition maximum, which was estimated by the test of 10 maximum repetitions. The direct curl was performed for upper body strength evaluation with 2.3 kg dumbbells for 30 seconds, whereas the chair test was used for lower body evaluation (total sit–stand movements in 30 seconds). The cognitive capacities of subjects were evaluated by “The Montreal Cognitive Assessment” questionnaire. After 12 weeks, the elderly group showed significant increases in the average upper body strength (58%), lower body strength (68%), and cognitive capacity (19%). The present study demonstrated that regular resistance exercises could provide significant gains on the upper and lower body strength concomitant to positive improvements on cognitive capacities of elderly women, bringing enhanced life quality.

aging, life quality, cognition, resistance training

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