High-intensity exercise is a potential therapeutic tool to postpone or prevent the onset of cognitive decline. However, there is a lack of sufficient evidence regarding the longitudinal effects of structured resistance training on cognitive function in healthy adults. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of two ecologically valid, intense 12-week resistance training programs on cognitive function in late middle-aged adults.
Single-site parallel randomised controlled trial at the Department of Exercise Science strength and conditioning laboratory. Groups allocated by minimisation randomisation.
Forty-five healthy adults (age range=41-69 years) were enrolled and randomised into (A) high-load, long rest resistance training (n=14), or (B) moderate-load, short rest resistance training (n=15) twice per week for 12 weeks, or a non-exercising control (n=16). Follow-up within seven days. Data were collected September 2016-December 2017. Cognitive function assessed using the CogState computerised battery. Assessors were blinded to participant group allocation. Secondary outcomes were maximal muscle strength and body composition.
Forty-four participants were analysed in 2018. Delayed verbal memory performance was improved (p=0.02) in resistance training groups (g=0.67-0.79) when compared to the control group, with no differences between training groups. Likewise, increases in maximal muscle strength were observed (p<0.01) in resistance training groups when compared to the control group, with no differences between training groups. No differences in body composition were observed. There were no adverse events or side-effects of the intervention.
12 weeks of intense resistance training improves delayed verbal memory irrespective of training design (i.e., high-load vs. moderate-load).
This study is registered at www.anzctr.org.au ACTRN12616000690459.