The effects of strength exercise on hippocampus volume and functional fitness of older women

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Abstract

Background:

Various positive effects of exercise on older women have been identified in many studies. Despite the importance of preserving the health of brain as well as body, few studies have investigated the effects of strength exercise on the brain health of older women to date. This study aimed to identify the effects of 24 weeks of the Growing Stronger program on hippocampus volume and functional fitness of older women.

Methods:

Twenty one older women aged 67 to 81 participated in this study. Growing Stronger, which is a strength exercise program that is safe and effective for women and men of all ages, was conducted. The 11 strength exercise group (n = 11) participated for 50–80 min a day three times per week for a total of 24 weeks. The control group maintained their lifestyles without any special intervention. Participants were given a pre-test (before applying for the program) and post-test (after 24 weeks) to identify effects of the program. The data were analyzed with repeated measures ANOVA.

Results:

Hippocampus volume was significantly increased in the strength exercise group, but decreased in the control group. Moreover, there was an interaction effect (p < 0.001) between time and group. Strength exercise has improved upper and lower body strength, lower body flexibility, agility, and dynamic balance. Upper body flexibility significantly decreased in the strength exercise group, but there was no interaction between the strength exercise group and the control group.

Conclusion:

The results of this study suggest that strength exercise has beneficial effects on hippocampus volume and functional fitness. Therefore, strength exercise can be an effective exercise for older women.

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