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AAIC 2022 | How does exercise affect cognition?

Laura Baker, PhD, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC, discusses our current understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying the relationship between exercise and cognition. Data from the EXERT randomized, controlled trial (NCT02814526) showed that not only intensive aerobic exercise, but also stretching and balance training, prevented cognitive decline in sedentary, older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). These data suggest that not all beneficial effects of exercise on cognition are attributable to increased blood flow and cardiovascular challenge. It is hoped that further analysis of the EXERT findings may shed more light on the mechanisms at play. Blood samples will be analyzed for Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers and brain imaging studies are underway, both structural and functional. The next aspect to look at is how the volume of exercise relates to the volume of change in cognition. As the analysis of the study progresses, it is hoped that novel findings may translate into new treatment strategies or targets for patients with MCI. This interview took place at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2022 in San Diego, CA.