Resistance training is a promising strategy to promote healthy cognitive aging; however, the brain mechanisms by which resistance training benefits cognition have yet to be determined. Here, we examined the effects of a 12-week resistance training program on resting brain activity and cerebrovascular function in 20 healthy older adults (14 females, mean age 69.1 years). In this single group clinical trial, multimodal 3 T magnetic resonance imaging was performed at 3 time points: baseline (preceding a 12-week control period), pre-intervention, and post-intervention. Along with significant improvements in fluid cognition (d = 1.27), 4 significant voxelwise clusters were identified for decreases in resting brain activity after the intervention (Cerebellum, Right Middle Temporal Gyrus, Left Inferior Parietal Lobule, and Right Inferior Parietal Lobule), but none were identified for changes in resting cerebral blood flow. Using a separate region of interest approach, we provide estimates for improved cerebral blood flow, compared with declines over the initial control period, in regions associated with cognitive impairment, such as hippocampal blood flow (d = 0.40), and posterior cingulate blood flow (d = 0.61). Finally, resistance training had a small countermeasure effect on the age-related progression of white matter lesion volume (rank-biserial = −0.22), a biomarker of cerebrovascular disease. These proof-of-concept data support larger trials to determine whether resistance training can attenuate or even reverse salient neurodegenerative processes.
- arterial spin labeling
- cerebral blood flow
- vascular compliance
- white matter hyperintensities
ASJC Scopus subject areas