Resistance training could improve brain function in those with mild dementia, suggests research presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, found that mild cognitive impairment (MCI) -- often a precursor to full blown Alzheimer's -- could be improved by weekly weightlifting sessions.

weights reduce alzheimers risk

Teresa Liu-Ambrose of the University of British Columbia said in a statement: "Twice-weekly resistance training could be a promising strategy to alter the trajectory of cognitive decline in seniors."

In a comparison of weightlifting, aerobic exercise and toning classes, resistance training resulted in improved attention, memory and ability to resolve problematic situations, the researchers found.

Scroll down for ways to decrease your dementia risk (PICTURES)

In contrast, the aerobic training group did not show similar improvements.

In light of the results, William Thies of the Alzheimer's Association has called for further research and long-term studies to learn more about factors that actually raise and lower risk for cognitive decline and Alzheimer's.

"The strongest data for lifestyle-based Alzheimer's risk reduction is for physical activity, yet this data is generally observational and considered preliminary," he says.

Japanese researchers from the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology also presented research on the significance of targeted exercise.

Older adults with MCI were asked to participate in a program that included aerobic exercise, muscle strength training, and postural balance retraining.

"Our findings suggest that an exercise intervention can, at least partly, improve or maintain cognitive performance in older adults with amnestic MCI," said supervisor Hiroyuki Shimada in a statement.

According to the Alzheimer's Society, the financial cost of dementia to the UK will be over £23 billion in 2012 and two thirds of people suffering with the condition are women.

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  • Lifestyle Changes To Help Prevent Dementia

  • Drink Decaffeinated Coffee

    A study at Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that <a href="" target="_hplink">decaffeinated coffee improves the brain's energy metabolism - linked to cognitive decline</a> - in those with Type 2 diabetes. "This is the first evidence showing the potential benefits of decaffeinated coffee preparations for both preventing and treating cognitive decline caused by type 2 diabetes, ageing, and/ or neurodegenerative disorders," said lead researcher, Dr Giulio Maria Pasinett.

  • Play Brain-Teasing Games

    Everyday <a href="" target="_hplink">games, puzzles and tasks were able to postpone decline in cognitive function and the ability to carry out everyday tasks, in dementia patients, for at least a year</a>, according to research from the University of Erlangen in Germany, published in the journals BMC Medicine.

  • Eat Less

    <a href="" target="_hplink">Eating fewer calories could help boost memory and cognitive function</a>, according to a study at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome. Researchers hope to mimic the same effect with a drug in the future, bringing hope to Alzheimer's sufferers as well as those suffering from injury-related memory loss.

  • Eat Fish

    Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre and School of Medicine found that <a href="" target="_hplink">people who ate baked or grilled fish regularly reduced their risk of developing Alzheimer's</a>. Reseracher Cyrus Raji said: "The results showed that people who consumed baked or broiled (grilled) fish at least one time per week had better preservation of grey matter volume on MRI in brain areas at risk for Alzheimer's disease."

  • Play The Wii Fit

    <a href="" target="_hplink">Working out using virtual games such as the Wii Fit could slow cognitive decline in the over 50s</a>, researchers from Union College in the US found. Participants aged between 58 and 99 were given a 3D exercise game to play. Compared to the control group who were asked to use a regular exercise bike, the 'cybercycle' group had a 23% decrease in advancement of mild cognitive impairment and showed improved 'executive function'.

  • Do The Seven-Step Plan

    A study in The Lancet Neurology suggest that <a href="" target="_hplink">3m cases of Alzheimer's across the world could be prevented in seven simple ways</a>. The report recommends quitting smoking, increasing physical activity, controlling your blood pressure and diabetes risk factors as well as managing depression and obesity to help combat the disease.