Can a Combination of Resistance and Aerobic Training Enhance Cognitive Function in Older Adults?

As we are all too aware, aging can bring with it a slew of health challenges, many of which are related to cognitive function. Whether you're worried about memory decline, impaired decision-making abilities, or overall cognitive health, you're not alone. Armed with this knowledge, research has begun to investigate the benefits of physical exercise on cognitive function, particularly in older adults. The question is: can a combination of resistance and aerobic training enhance cognitive function in these individuals?

Insights from PubMed and Crossref Studies

Let's dive into the research. PubMed, a free resource that provides access to a vast database of biomedical literature, and Crossref, an organization that provides citation linking services, are excellent sources of scientific information.

A simple search for the keywords "cognitive," "exercise," and "older adults" on both platforms yields numerous studies. According to a review on PubMed, regular aerobic exercise can enhance cognitive function in older adults. As per another study found on Crossref, resistance training also has positive effects on cognitive health. But do the two exercises combined have an enhanced effect?

A systematic review on PubMed involving the study of older adults who participated in both resistance and aerobic exercises revealed significant improvements in cognitive function compared to those who only did one type of exercise. This leads to the conclusion that a combination of resistance and aerobic training could be more beneficial for cognitive health in older adults.

Understanding the DOI System

Every piece of research found on platforms like PubMed and Crossref has a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) assigned to it. This alphanumeric string is unique to each digital object and serves as a persistent link to its location on the internet. By searching for a specific DOI on Google Scholar, another widely used search engine for scholarly literature, we can locate and access the full text of a document. This means you can dive deeper into each study to understand the methodology, results, and implications better.

To find the studies mentioned above, simply type the DOI into Google Scholar's search bar. For example, the systematic review on the benefits of combined resistance and aerobic training for cognitive function in older adults has the DOI 10.1001/archneur.63.5.noc60109.

Analyzing the Effects of Combined Aerobic and Resistance Training

The research findings reviewed above have shown that both aerobic and resistance exercises can enhance cognitive function in older adults, with potential amplified effects when combined. But how exactly do these exercises impact our cognitive health? Let's break it down.

Aerobic exercises, such as walking, running, or cycling, increase the heart rate and thus the blood flow to the brain. This can lead to improved brain health, memory, and other cognitive functions. On the other hand, resistance exercises like weightlifting can enhance cognitive function by improving muscular strength and coordination, and it has been suggested that these exercises could also lead to neuroplastic changes in the brain.

When these forms of exercise are combined, it could lead to enhanced cognitive benefits. The aerobic component works to improve cardiovascular health, which in turn benefits brain health. The resistance component helps to maintain muscle mass and strength, which are important for overall physical health and mobility. Together, these exercises provide a comprehensive workout that supports both physical and cognitive health.

Implementing a Combined Exercise Intervention

According to the research, implementing a combined resistance and aerobic exercise training program could be beneficial for older adults. But how should this be done?

First, it's essential to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new exercise regimen. They can assess your current health status and provide recommendations based on your individual needs and capabilities.

Once you have the go-ahead, start small. Incorporate both aerobic and resistance exercises into your routine gradually. For instance, you could spend 20 minutes each day walking or cycling, and two days a week doing some light weightlifting. As your strength and stamina increase, you can progressively intensify your workouts.

Remember, consistency is key. To reap the cognitive benefits of exercise, it needs to be done regularly. So find a routine that you enjoy and can stick to. Enlisting a workout buddy or hiring a personal trainer can also be helpful for motivation and to ensure that exercises are done correctly.

While research has shown promising results, it's important to remember that everyone is unique. What works for one person may not work for the next, and the enhancement of cognitive function can vary greatly from individual to individual. However, with regular exercise, everyone can improve their physical health, which ultimately has a positive effect on mental well-being.

Putting the Findings into Practice

Now that we have a clearer understanding of the research, let's consider how we can apply these findings in real life. The evidence is clear: combined resistance and aerobic training can enhance cognitive function in older adults.

Advice for older adults who want to improve their cognitive function through exercise should encompass both aerobic and resistance exercises. One could start by incorporating a 30-minute brisk walk into their daily routine. This type of aerobic exercise increases the heart rate and can enhance brain health, memory, and other cognitive functions.

Resistance exercise, such as lifting weights, can also be incorporated into the routine. It may be of benefit to work with a certified fitness professional who can provide a safe and effective resistance training program. This professional can also ensure that the exercises are being done correctly, which is essential in order to minimize the risk of injury.

Resistance exercises can enhance cognitive function by improving muscular strength and coordination. There's even evidence to suggest that they could lead to neuroplastic changes in the brain.

It is worth noting that while the benefits of combining these two forms of exercise are promising, it's still important to choose activities that are enjoyable and sustainable in the long term. Ultimately, the best exercise regimen is the one that can be maintained consistently.


In conclusion, the research overwhelmingly supports the notion that a combination of resistance and aerobic exercise can enhance cognitive function in older adults. Studies sourced from PubMed and Crossref and analyzed through Google Scholar using the DOI system clearly illustrate the benefits of both types of physical exercise on cognitive health.

Moreover, the practical implementation of these findings is feasible and can be adjusted to fit into the lifestyle of every older adult wishing to remain cognitively sharp. However, it's crucial to remember to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new exercise regimen to ensure that it's safe and appropriate.

While everyone is different, the science shows that regular physical exercise—both resistance and aerobic—can help us maintain our cognitive abilities as we age. So whether it's walking, running, weightlifting, or a combination of these, the key is to get moving and keep our bodies active. Not only does exercise benefit our physical health, but it also provides crucial support for our cognitive health.

In the words of the World Health Organization, "Physical activity is a 'best buy' for public health." And it seems, according to the evidence, it's also a 'best buy' for cognitive health in older adults. So, let's keep moving.