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The effect of self-paced exercise intensity and cardiorespiratory fitness on frontal grey matter volume in cognitively normal older adults: A randomised controlled trial

Frost, N.J., Weinborn, M., Gignac, G.E., Xia, Y., Doré, V., Rainey-Smith, S.R., Markovic, S., Gordon, N., Sohrabi, H.R.ORCID: 0000-0001-8017-8682, Laws, S.M., Martins, R.N., Peiffer, J.J.ORCID: 0000-0002-3331-1177 and Brown, B.M.ORCID: 0000-0001-7927-2540 (2021) The effect of self-paced exercise intensity and cardiorespiratory fitness on frontal grey matter volume in cognitively normal older adults: A randomised controlled trial. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society .

Link to Published Version: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1355617721001132
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Abstract

Objective:

Exercise has been found to be important in maintaining neurocognitive health. However, the effect of exercise intensity level remains relatively underexplored. Thus, to test the hypothesis that self-paced high-intensity exercise and cardiorespiratory fitness (peak aerobic capacity; VO2peak) increase grey matter (GM) volume, we examined the effect of a 6-month exercise intervention on frontal lobe GM regions that support the executive functions in older adults.

Methods:

Ninety-eight cognitively normal participants (age = 69.06 ± 5.2 years; n = 54 female) were randomised into either a self-paced high- or moderate-intensity cycle-based exercise intervention group, or a no-intervention control group. Participants underwent magnetic resonance imaging and fitness assessment pre-intervention, immediately post-intervention, and 12-months post-intervention.

Results:

The intervention was found to increase fitness in the exercise groups, as compared with the control group (F = 9.88, p = <0.001). Changes in pre-to-post-intervention fitness were associated with increased volume in the right frontal lobe (β = 0.29, p = 0.036, r = 0.27), right supplementary motor area (β = 0.30, p = 0.031, r = 0.29), and both right (β = 0.32, p = 0.034, r = 0.30) and left gyrus rectus (β = 0.30, p = 0.037, r = 0.29) for intervention, but not control participants. No differences in volume were observed across groups.

Conclusions:

At an aggregate level, six months of self-paced high- or moderate-intensity exercise did not increase frontal GM volume. However, experimentally-induced changes in individual cardiorespiratory fitness was positively associated with frontal GM volume in our sample of older adults. These results provide evidence of individual variability in exercise-induced fitness on brain structure.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Psychology, Counselling, Exercise Science and Chiropractic
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Copyright: © 2021 INS.
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/62447
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