Individuals with metabolic syndrome may now have another concern: memory loss. Older adults who present with symptoms of metabolic syndrome—high blood pressure, excess abdominal fat, low high-density lipoprotein levels and more—appear to be at greater risk for diminished cognition. A recent study, published in Neurology (2011; 76 [6], 518–25), included 7,087 men and women aged 65 and older from three French cities. The individuals were tested on global cognitive function, verbal fluency and visual working memory at baseline and again at a 2-year or a 4-year follow-up. At study completion, those presenting with metabolic syndrome were 20% more likely than nonsymptomatic subjects to have experienced cognitive decline.

However, researchers from another study stated that a once-per-week strength training program may offer a solution. Printed in the Archives of Internal Medicine (2010; 170 [22], 2036–38), the study followed 155 women aged 65–75. The women were separated into three groups: a once-per-week resistance training class, twice-weekly resistance training classes and twice-weekly balancing and toning training. At the end of the year-long study, researchers found that those in the once-per-week group experienced the greatest improvements, including fewer doctor visits, reduced medication use and less cost to the healthcare system. The study authors also found that individuals in the once-per-week training group reported fewer falls, a symptom associated with cognitive impairment.