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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

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2021

Natalie J. Frost*
Affiliation:
School of Psychological Science, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia School of Psychology and Exercise Science, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia, Australia Australian Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, Sarich Neuroscience Research Institute, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia Ageing, Cognition and Exercise (ACE) Research Group, School of Psychology and Exercise Science, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia, Australia Lifestyle Approaches towards Cognitive Health (LATCH) Research Group, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Michael Weinborn
Affiliation:
School of Psychological Science, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia Australian Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, Sarich Neuroscience Research Institute, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia, Australia Lifestyle Approaches towards Cognitive Health (LATCH) Research Group, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Gilles E. Gignac
Affiliation:
School of Psychological Science, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia
Ying Xia
Affiliation:
The Australian e-Health Research Centre, CSIRO Health and Biosecurity, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Vincent Doré
Affiliation:
The Australian e-Health Research Centre, CSIRO Health and Biosecurity, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia Department of Molecular Imaging and Therapy, Austin Health, 145 Studley Road, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia
Stephanie R. Rainey-Smith
Affiliation:
School of Psychological Science, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia Australian Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, Sarich Neuroscience Research Institute, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia Ageing, Cognition and Exercise (ACE) Research Group, School of Psychology and Exercise Science, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia, Australia School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia, Australia Lifestyle Approaches towards Cognitive Health (LATCH) Research Group, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Shaun Markovic
Affiliation:
School of Psychology and Exercise Science, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia, Australia Australian Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, Sarich Neuroscience Research Institute, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia Ageing, Cognition and Exercise (ACE) Research Group, School of Psychology and Exercise Science, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia, Australia Lifestyle Approaches towards Cognitive Health (LATCH) Research Group, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Nicole Gordon
Affiliation:
School of Psychology and Exercise Science, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia, Australia
Hamid R. Sohrabi
Affiliation:
Australian Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, Sarich Neuroscience Research Institute, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia, Australia School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Macquarie University, New South Wales, Australia Centre for Healthy Ageing, School of Psychology and Exercise Science, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia, Australia
Simon M. Laws
Affiliation:
Australian Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, Sarich Neuroscience Research Institute, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia, Australia Co-operative Research Centre for Mental Health, Carlton, Victoria, Australia Collaborative Genomics Group, School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia, Australia School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University, Bentley, Western Australia, Australia Lifestyle Approaches towards Cognitive Health (LATCH) Research Group, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Ralph N. Martins
Affiliation:
Australian Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, Sarich Neuroscience Research Institute, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia, Australia School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Macquarie University, New South Wales, Australia
Jeremiah J. Peiffer
Affiliation:
School of Psychology and Exercise Science, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia, Australia Ageing, Cognition and Exercise (ACE) Research Group, School of Psychology and Exercise Science, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia, Australia
Belinda M. Brown
Affiliation:
School of Psychology and Exercise Science, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia, Australia Australian Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, Sarich Neuroscience Research Institute, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia Ageing, Cognition and Exercise (ACE) Research Group, School of Psychology and Exercise Science, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia, Australia Centre for Healthy Ageing, School of Psychology and Exercise Science, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia, Australia Lifestyle Approaches towards Cognitive Health (LATCH) Research Group, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
*
*Correspondence and reprint requests to: Natalie J. Frost, School of Psychology & Exercise Science, Murdoch University, 90 South Street, Murdoch WA6150, Australia. Email: natalie.frost@murdoch.edu.au

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.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © INS. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2021

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