Aerobic Exercise Training Improves Cerebral Blood Flow and Executive Function: A Randomized, Controlled Cross-Over Trial in Sedentary Older Men.
Methods: Seventeen apparently healthy men, aged 60-70 years and with a BMI between 25 and 35 kg/m2, were included in a randomized, controlled cross-over trial. Study participants were randomly allocated to a fully-supervised, progressive, aerobic exercise training or no-exercise control period for 8 weeks, separated by a 12-week wash-out period. Measurements at the end of each period included aerobic fitness evaluated using peak oxygen consumption during incremental exercise (VO2 peak), CBF measured with pseudo-continuous arterial spin labeling magnetic resonance imaging, and post-load glucose responses determined using an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). Furthermore, cognitive performance was assessed in the domains of executive function, memory, and psychomotor speed.
Results: VO2 peak significantly increased following aerobic exercise training compared to no-exercise control by 262 ± 236 mL (P < 0.001). CBF was increased by 27% bilaterally in the frontal lobe, particularly the subcallosal and anterior cingulate gyrus (cluster volume: 1008 mm3; P < 0.05), while CBF was reduced by 19% in the right medial temporal lobe, mainly temporal fusiform gyrus (cluster volume: 408 mm3; P < 0.05). Mean post-load glucose concentrations determined using an OGTT decreased by 0.33 ± 0.63 mmol/L (P = 0.049). Furthermore, executive function improved as the latency of response was reduced by 5% (P = 0.034), but no changes were observed in memory or psychomotor speed.
Conclusion: Aerobic exercise training improves regional CBF in sedentary older men. These changes in CBF may underlie exercise-induced beneficial effects on executive function, which could be partly mediated by improvements in glucose metabolism. This clinical trial is registered on ClinicalTrials.gov as NCT03272061.
Front Aging Neurosci. 2019 Dec 4;11:333. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2019.00333. PMID: 31866855; PMCID: PMC6904365.