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Improvements Seen in Some Cognitive Domains With Aerobic Exercise

Middle-aged, older adults saw improvement after six-month aerobic exercise intervention

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THURSDAY, May 14, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- A six-month aerobic exercise intervention is associated with improvements in cognitive domains and cerebrovascular regulation among middle-aged and older adults, according to a study published online May 13 in Neurology.

Veronica Guadagni, Ph.D., from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and colleagues enrolled 206 healthy low-active middle-aged and older adults in a six-month aerobic exercise intervention in a single-group pre/postintervention study. Cerebral blood flow velocity was measured with transcranial Doppler ultrasound. The association between changes in cognition and changes in cerebrovascular function was examined.

The researchers observed improvements in some cognitive domains, cardiorespiratory fitness, and cerebrovascular regulation in association with the intervention. There was a negative association seen for changes in executive function with changes in cerebrovascular resistance index (CVRi) during submaximal exercise (β = −0.205), while positive associations were seen for fluency improvements with changes in CVRi during hypercapnia (β = 0.106).

"Results from this study provide suggestive evidence that aerobic exercise has the potential to improve cognitive performance and cerebrovascular regulation in middle-aged and older adults, but future appropriately powered randomized controlled trials are needed to test the specific effects of aerobic exercise on cognition," the authors write.

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