Why You Should Be Lifting Weights

a deadlifter showing the link between weightlifting and brain health

Mention weightlifting and strength training, and people immediately think of building big muscles. But in recent years, gym goers and exercise buffs are learning that lifting weights is more than sculpting the body’s muscles and keeping them strong. Weight training helps the brain just as cardio exercises do–surprising, but it’s true. Dig into this Project Bold Life and learn the link between weightlifting and brain health!

(Curious about Pilates? Check out this Project Bold Life explainer.)

How Weight Training Changes the Brain

people exploring the link between weightlifting and brain health
There’s a strong link between weightlifting and brain health, which gives you even more reason to head to the gym.

The connection between weightlifting and brain health isn’t new. Fitness trainers and medical experts often refer to the mind-muscle connection when working out. The only difference is that, in recent years, more people now understand that it’s not only about pushing your body’s limits to reach its full potential but making the brain strong, too.

Research studies show that doing strength training produces neurological changes and muscle changes. Due to this, the more the muscles’ strength increases, the connections between neurons in the brain’s motor system undergo a similar change.

One notable discovery researchers made is the connection between strength training and neurogenesis, or the creation of new brain cells, one that scientists only found happens during aerobic exercises like swimming or jogging. In addition, a 2022 study on neurogenesis concluded that high-intensity resistance training, or HIIT, can elevate cognitive performance, meaning getting physically stronger relates to getting smarter.

Weightlifting also unlocks brain plasticity, or the brain’s ability to rewire and adapt. Strength training workouts are always challenging, but the tougher the exercises are, the more they stimulate neuron growth and survival, which enhances cognitive flexibility. Brain plasticity improves creative thinking, allowing you to think outside the box and easily adapt to new situations.

“Resistance training can have substantial impacts on cognition, with neural changes improving cognitive impairment and even cognitive decline.” – Stephanie L. Leal, Director, Neuroscience of Memory & Aging Laboratory

Surprising Brain-Health Benefits of Weightlifting

Lifting weights offers extensive health benefits and lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In addition, these exercises also alleviate depression. But, its brain health benefits show the importance of engaging in more muscle-strengthening activities.

Regulating Metabolic Balance

One medical study proposed that Alzheimer’s dementia can be under type 3 diabetes. The researchers saw that the metabolic alterations in people’s brains with either condition are similar. The study suggested that as people age, especially those suffering from Alzheimer’s, the brain’s access to and use of glucose drops off. In addition, people with metabolic dysfunctions have higher risks of developing dementia and depression.

Due to this connection, keeping up with weight training and resistance workouts can help improve blood sugar regulation and insulin requirements which could help brain cells get the glucose they need regularly. When the brain acquires its daily glucose needs, cognitive function doesn’t deteriorate and can improve with other brain exercises.

Overall Improvement of Cognitive Function

Engaging in weight-lifting exercises improves cognitive functions, including enhanced memory, clearer thinking, quicker learning, and better executive function. The brain health benefits of these workouts come from the increased blood flow to the brain. The blood flow helps nourish the brain cells and stimulate growth factor production, which helps in creating and maintaining neural connections.

Weightlifting and resistance training also help stimulate the brain, including the body’s motor control and coordination. Adding these exercises maintains and enhances the neural efficiency within adults and demonstrates how significant they are for brain health and longevity.

Boosting Immune Health

Managing chronic inflammation is critical to maintain one’s physical well-being. Weight training can help boost the immune system and keep inflammation in check as muscles produce more myokines during workouts. Myokines are small proteins that improve one’s immunity and are essential cytokines for neuroplasticity.

Improve Sleep Quality

Exercising improves sleep quality, but strength training also protects part of the hippocampus from degenerating. The hippocampus is the part of the brain in charge of learning and memory.

In addition, lifting weights and resistance workout affects the body’s hormonal regulation which helps ward off fatigue and boost one’s mood. Due to this, researchers believe that they can lower the risks of depression and anxiety, which get worse with regular sleep deprivation.

some people doing deadlifts
Don’t worry about getting too big–worry about getting too smart!

How To Start Weight Training

Adopting a long-term workout is crucial to maintaining and enhancing brain health. Adding resistance training can be a challenge to anyone not used to them. Here are some quick tips to start and sustain your weight training routine.

Start Light

Slow and steady is the best way to approach weight training. Start with lifting lighter weights and slowly increase the workout’s intensity and the weights you use. Practicing this ensures that each routine is enjoyable while preventing any injury.

Short Sessions

Unlike other workouts, you don’t have to spend long hours with weight training, as it could injure you. Short daily sessions can still yield a lot of benefits. In addition, exploring possible options with your trainer can help you structure the best long-term fitness plan.

Protein Intake

Having the proper protein intake is essential when doing weight training. The exercises work the muscles and eating the right amount of protein ensures muscle growth. It also helps in helping your body recover faster.

Don’t forget the book that lays out the principles of goal-achievement and attaining a Bold Life!

About the Author

Through timely and thoughtful articles, the book Project Bold Life: The Proven Formula to Take on Challenges and Achieve Happiness and Success, and other media, we deliver engaging content that educates, motivates and inspires you to live a Bold Life.
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