For Women Increased Strength = Higher Brain Function
Why should every woman lift weights? If you guessed faster and healthier metabolism, increased bone density, improved body composition, better circulation and cardiorespiratory health, you'd be right. But, you've heard all those before. BORING. Get ready for something you haven't heard!
Two recent, unrelated studies provide valuable insight into the correlation of physical wellness and mental wellness, giving us two new reasons women should lift weights.
More leg strength = better brain function later in life
A recent study from Kings College in London tested 324 twin females ranging in age from 43-73 (average age = 55). Each participant performed the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) at two different times - separated by 10 years.
To most accurately assess the relationships between baseline leg power, physical activity and subsequent cognitive change, researchers chose twins to control for genetics and adjusted "comprehensively for baseline covariates (including heart disease, diabetes, blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, lipids, diet, body habitus, smoking and alcohol habits, reading IQ, socioeconomic status and birthweight)" 
The study determined that "leg power predicts both cognitive aging and global brain structure" and that "interventions targeted to improve leg power in the long term may help reach a universal goal of healthy cognitive aging." (By "interventions", they mean LIFTING WEIGHTS!)
The take away action item for us = increase your strength levels NOW to ensure higher brain function later and protect your most precious resource from cognitive decline through the aging process.
Moms with Higher T = "Gifted" Babies with Higher IQs
They say the most powerful force in nature is a mother protecting her young.
If that's true, the second most powerful thing might very well be a mother setting the most conducive enviroment for her offspring to succeed. See the cessation of smoking, avoiding excess mercury, and listening to Beethoven during pregnancy as examples of this.
New research is adding another powerful "stage-setter" for mothers and their soon-to-be-born children.
According to Martin Mrazik's paper "The Neurobiological Foundations of Giftedness", women with higher levels of Testosterone give birth to children with higher IQs. 
"Mrazik, a professor in the Faculty of Education's educational psychology department, and a colleague from Rider University in the U.S., have published a paper in Roeper Review linking giftedness (having an IQ score of 130 or higher) to prenatal exposure of higher levels of testosterone."
Now, let's be clear - we're not here to suggest hormone treatment or testosterone injections, after all, that's not "natural" and too much can be bad thing. So how can women naturally and safely increase their T-levels?
- Increase Your Testosterone Through Diet: Diets rich in healthy fats like whole eggs, pasture-raised meat & wild game, avocados, nuts, butter and coconut oil have been show to increase Testosterone levels within the normal range.
- Boost Testosterone Naturally With Exercise = Resistance training, specifically with a focus on getting stronger - not just doing cardio - increases testosterone levels. Not only will lifting weights to increase strength boost testosterone, it will also lead to the other (well-covered) benefits of weight training for women like increased bone density , increased metabolism, and enhanced cardiovascular health. When you perform these workouts, choose exercises that involve more muscles (squats instead of bicep curls), use heavier weights and keep rest periods short.
In case you're wondering, an IQ of 132 or higher will qualify you for MENSA - the world's oldest and most prestigious high IQ organization. I found this test if you've got 40 minutes and what to see where you rank.
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- Martin Mrazik, Stefan Dombrowski. The Neurobiological Foundations of Giftedness. Roeper Review, 2010; 32 (4): 224 DOI: 10.1080/02783193.2010.508154
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