Great news: The myths and anxieties of women and strength training are long busted. You can no longer lament that “I’ll get big if I start lifting weights” without being quickly shot down. More and more women are championing the mantra of “strong is the new beautiful.” We now know how effective strength programming is for speeding up our metabolism, lowering abdominal fat, and boosting the immune system. However, an unfolding trail of research has begun to yield some astonishing new findings about the benefits of strength training for brain health.
What’s New with Strength Training?
We’ve all heard about the robust bank of research surrounding cardio and how it benefits healthier brain function. But it’s harder to find information on the effects of resistance training on the mind. Major institutions are now turning their attention to the key benefits of strength training for brain health. Key research areas have found that working on our muscles might slow cognitive decline and memory function.
Incredible Benefits of Strength Training for Brain Health
1. Memory function
Adults who practice regular strength training once a week showed a significant increase in the number of white matter lesions. This, in turn, leads to sustained brain and memory function. Strength training improves brain power across a lifetime. However, the effects are even stronger in older adults suffering from cognitive decline.
One of the most under-advertised benefits of strength training for brain health is its ability to act as a kind of high-powered meditation. With all your mental faculties devoted to executing the proper movements, you may experience a rather remarkable quietening of the mind. No more racing thought loops! Instead, it’s a silent time just for you. Meditative headspaces have a startling range of well-researched benefits, from improved concentration to decreased anxiety and more creative thinking.
Strength training provides an opportunity to overcome obstacles in a controlled, predictable environment, increasing mental resiliency. This is the skill of grit that you can bring into your health goals, your professional life, and even your hobbies. Building this growth mindset and understanding its parallel principles (like brain plasticity) are essential to cultivating long-term progress in your career and skills.
4. Better sleep
Better sleep makes you happier, but it also makes you smarter. While you’re tucked away in bed, your brain is actually doing its own heavy lifting. Procedural memories like how to perform a new physical skill or mental process are encoded into the brain. REM sleep directly enhances creative processing more than any other sleep or wake state.
Muscle growth and deep sleep are interdependent. When we strengthen our muscles, vital bodily functions like resting glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and metabolic rate are all regulated. Another benefit of strength training for brain health is how these all these things work together to contribute to stress reduction.
Move over runner’s high: Strength training also improves symptoms of clinical depression and anxiety. Our body’s nervous system and pituitary glands produce endorphins (natural opiates produced by the brain) as natural pain relievers. They also work as pleasure inducers. Improved mood and energy levels can result in the kind of clarity which frees up that fuzzy stress-induced brain fog. Say hello to better decision making!
Strength training starts the day off with a clear WIN. This feeling of accomplishment will set you up for success when it comes to making healthier choices. Get ready to drink more water, get off your phone, and spend an extra five minutes preparing tomorrow’s healthy overnight oats.
Interested in beginning your lifting journey and transforming your mind and body? Never be intimidated by the weight room again with our 7-Day Beginner’s Introduction to Strength Training.
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