Aerobic Exercise Improves Cognition for Older Adults with Glucose Intolerance, A Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s Disease

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Aerobic Exercise Improves Cognition for Older Adults with Glucose Intolerance, A Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s Disease

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Title: Aerobic Exercise Improves Cognition for Older Adults with Glucose Intolerance, A Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s Disease
Author: Baker, Laura D.; Frank, Laura L.; Foster-Schubert, Karen; Green, Pattie S.; Wilkinson, Charles W.; McTiernan, Anne; Cholerton, Brenna A.; Plymate, Stephen R.; Fishel, Mark A.; Watson, G. Stennis; Duncan, Glen E.; Mehta, Pankaj D.; Craft, Suzanne
Abstract: Impaired glucose regulation is a defining characteristic of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) pathology and has been linked to increased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. Although the benefits of aerobic exercise for physical health are well-documented, exercise effects on cognition have not been examined for older adults with poor glucose regulation associated with prediabetes and early T2DM. Using a randomized controlled design, twenty-eight adults (57–83 y old) meeting 2-h tolerance test criteria for glucose intolerance completed 6 months of aerobic exercise or stretching, which served as the control. The primary cognitive outcomes included measures of executive function (Trails B, Task Switching, Stroop, Self-ordered Pointing Test, and Verbal Fluency). Other outcomes included memory performance (Story Recall, List Learning), measures of cardiorespiratory fitness obtained via maximal-graded exercise treadmill test, glucose disposal during hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp, body fat, and fasting plasma levels of insulin, cortisol, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, insulin-like growth factor-1, amyloid-β (Aβ40 and Aβ42). Six months of aerobic exercise improved executive function (MANCOVA, p = 0.04), cardiorespiratory fitness (MANOVA, p = 0.03), and insulin sensitivity (p = 0.05). Across all subjects, 6-month changes in cardiorespiratory fitness and insulin sensitivity were positively correlated (p = 0.01). For Aβ42, plasma levels tended to decrease for the aerobic group relative to controls (p = 0.07). The results of our study using rigorous controlled methodology suggest a cognition-enhancing effect of aerobic exercise for older glucose intolerant adults. Although replication in a larger sample is needed, our findings potentially have important therapeutic implications for a growing number of adults at increased risk of cognitive decline.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1773/18741

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