Fittest After 50: Bodybuilding Brain

Fittest After 50: Bodybuilding Brain

A few days ago, the New York Times published an article on the amazing effects of strength training on the brain.  Although the 155 subjects were all women between ages 65 and 75, I’m sure this equally applies to men:

Older women who did an hour or two of strength training exercises each week had improved cognitive function a year later, scoring higher on tests of the brain processes responsible for planning and executing tasks, a new study has found.

I’m so happy I’ve started serious strength training again, because I tend to get lost between planning and execution on a daily basis.

In the final paragraph, however, the researcher makes a disturbing observation:

Older women are generally less likely than others to do strength training, even though it can promote bone health and counteract muscle loss.

I think what she meant to say is “Older women are generally less likely than men to do strength training…”

And it’s not just older women.  Why?

Some observations:

  • Many media surveys describe 41-year-old Jennifer Aniston as being one of the fittest celebrities.  At 5’5″, Jennifer apparently weighs around 110 pounds.
  • I’m about the same height as Aniston. I haven’t weighed 110 since before I started getting my monthly visitor.
  • My trainer is a bit taller than me.  She weighs a very solid 135 pounds and is truly fit.
  • Aniston weighs the same as many pre-pubescent girls of the same height, so how fit can she really be?  Why all the praise in the press?

Commenter Sue sums it up:

I recently started to lift heavy, as a female it’s pretty intimidating being the only one trying to figure out how to use a squat cage, but it’s extremely rewarding. . .  There are different levels of everything. Yoga is not just touching your toes, and lifting a 2lb pink dumbbell is not lifting weights either. I doubt this article will get women very far though. Most women think it’s perfectly normal to be weak and cardio will give you a super model body.

As Bloomer Girls, we need to renounce the stereotypes that hold us back. Until we accept that lady muscles are beautiful, we won’t be getting healthier or smartier.

I’d love to know what the guys think.

Next, Fittest After 50: My Story


  • The Times article can be found here. Several folks over 50 wrote comments about how strength training has improved their health and cognition.
  • The original Vancouver General Hospital study can be found here.

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