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.
|Number of pages||14|
|Journal||Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society|
|Publication status||Published - 22 Oct 2022|