Lifting cognition: A meta-analysis of effects of resistance exercise on cognition

Jon Frederick Landrigan*, Tyler Bell, Michael Crowe, Olivio J. Clay, Daniel Mirman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The health benefits of resistance exercises are well established; however, the effects of resistance training on cognition are not as well understood. The purpose of this meta-analysis was to evaluate the evidence of resistance exercise’s effects on cognition. A systematic search identified 24 studies that were included in the analyses. These articles ranged in the protocols utilized and in how they studied the effects of resistance training on cognition. Four primary analyses were carried out to assess the effects of resistance exercise on cognitive outcomes: (1) composite cognitive scores, (2) screening measures of cognitive impairment, (3) measures of executive functions, and (4) measures of working memory. Results revealed positive effects of resistance training on composite cognitive scores (SMD 0.71, 95% CI 0.30–1.12), screening measures of cognitive impairment (SMD 1.28, 95% CI 0.39–2.18), and executive functions (SMD 0.39, 95% CI 0.04–0.74), but no effect on measures of working memory (SMD 0.151, 95% CI − 0.21 to 0.51). High heterogeneity was observed in all analyses. Resistance training appears to have positive effects on cognition; however, future research will need to determine why the effects are so variable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1167–1183
JournalPsychological Research
Issue number5
Early online date9 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • resistance exercise
  • strength training
  • cognition
  • cognitive
  • enhancement


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