Yeah, this guy doesn't look like the brightest bulb. We tend to stereotype weight-lifters as heavier on brawn than brains.
But recent research in animals, and a bit in humans as well, suggests that weight-lifting may improve brain function, just as aerobic workouts are known to do. This New York Times blog entry reports on recent studies in rodents and adds:
Whether the same mechanisms occur in humans who undertake resistance training of one kind or another is not yet fully clear, but “the data look promising,” said Teresa Liu-Ambrose, a principal investigator at the Brain Research Center at the University of British Columbia. In results from her lab, older women who lifted weights performed significantly better on various tests of cognitive functioning than women who completed toning classes. Ms. Liu-Ambrose has also done brain scans of people who lifted weights to determine whether neurogenesis is occurring in their brains, and the results, still unpublished, are encouraging, she said.
(Of course, we can't ignore one commenter's point: “I have two words that disprove this theory: Jersey Shore.”)
This program aired on January 26, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.