Brain Warriors need to be strong… in every way! I meet so many people who want help achieving a healthy weight, looking younger, and keeping their mind sharp as they age. There’s one exercise that can help with all of these things:
Here are 5 ways strength training can help you reach your Warrior goals and optimize your brain function.
1. Boost metabolism all day long.
The more muscle you have your body, the higher your metabolism. It’s simple math. Every pound of muscle burns roughly 6 calories a day while every pound of fat burns approximately 2 calories per day. That’s not all. Having more muscle means you can power through tougher workouts—a steeper hike, for example—which adds to the calorie burn. Plus, there’s the afterburn effect, known as EPOC, which shows that your body continues burning more calories for hours or even days after weight training.
2. Fend off dementia.
Did you know that the stronger you are, the less likely you are to get Alzheimer’s disease? Canadian researchers found that resistance training plays a role in preventing cognitive decline.[i]
3. Lose more belly fat.
When combined with a brain healthy eating program, strength training helps you lose more fat while maintaining muscle tone. Dropping abdominal fat is especially beneficial because as the size of your belly goes up, the size of your brain goes down and increases the risk for cognitive decline and memory problems.
4. Increase your protein reserve.
In medical emergencies, having more muscle on your body can help you recover faster. As an ICU nurse, I saw first-hand how elderly patients who were frail died faster than those who were stronger. Frailty prevented them from recovering and increased their risk of falls, broken bones, and pneumonia. It’s also associated with a greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
5. Lower your risk for type 2 diabetes.
Strength training can reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes even if you’re at increased risk for the condition. A 2019 study with 4,681 adults showed that strength training and increasing overall muscle mass lowered risk by 32%.[ii] Other research has shown it helps stabilize blood sugar levels and reduces insulin resistance, two things that are very important for optimal brain function.
How much strength training do you need?
I recommend two 30- to 45-minute strength-training sessions a week—one for the lower body (legs, lower back, and abs), the other for the upper body (chest, arms, and upper back). You can use traditional weights or just your own body weight—think pull-ups and push-ups. Compound strength-training moves that involve multiple muscle groups like lunges and squats are particularly helpful.
Remember, after a tough strength-training sesh, it’s important to replenish your body with protein to help with muscle repair and recovery.
For a delicious post-workout shake, try any of the many smoothie recipes on my website and start with OMNI Protein in Vanilla or Chocolate. And if you want more energy and focus to motivate you to hit the gym on a regular basis for your strength-training sessions, check out Focus & Energy. It gives you the lasting energy and endurance you need—without the jitters or caffeine crash. Enter the promo code TANA21 at checkout to get 21% off at the BrainMD store.
- [i] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23690976
- [ii] https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(18)30789-4/fulltext