The National Institute on Aging recently awarded a 5-year, $21.8 million grant to Kirk Erickson, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh, to study associations between exercise and brain health in older adults.
“This study will more definitively address whether exercise influences cognitive and brain health in cognitively normal older adults, as well as understanding the mechanisms of physical activity on the brain,” Erickson said in a press release.
The phase 3 study, titled “Investigating Gains in Neurocognition in an Intervention Trial of Exercise” (IGNITE), will include 639 cognitively normal adults aged 65 to 80 years. Study participants will be assigned to engage in moderately intense exercise for 150 minutes per week, 225 minutes per week or stretching and toning exercises for 150 minutes per week.
Erickson and colleagues will assess the effects of moderate exercise on cognitive health and MRI-measured markers of brain health and if changes are dose dependent, associations between changes to the nervous system, heart and metabolism and improved brain health and cognition and how individual differences affect findings.
Further, researchers hope to determine if baseline brain measurements are associated with participant compliance with exercise and if brain imaging can be used to understand the association between physical activity and brain aging.