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Brain Imaging Behav. 2019 Jun 17. doi: 10.1007/s11682-019-00148-x. [Epub ahead of print]

Differential associations of engagement in physical activity and estimated cardiorespiratory fitness with brain volume in middle-aged to older adults.

Author information

1
School of Anthropology, University of Arizona, 1009 E. South Campus Dr., Tucson, AZ, 85721, USA. raichlen@email.arizona.edu.
2
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA.
3
BIO5 Institute, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA.
4
Department of Psychology, University of Arizona, 1503 E. University, Tucson, AZ, 85721, USA.
5
Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA.
6
BIO5 Institute, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA. gene.alexander@arizona.edu.
7
Department of Psychology, University of Arizona, 1503 E. University, Tucson, AZ, 85721, USA. gene.alexander@arizona.edu.
8
Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA. gene.alexander@arizona.edu.
9
Department of Psychiatry, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA. gene.alexander@arizona.edu.
10
Neuroscience Graduate Interdisciplinary Program, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA. gene.alexander@arizona.edu.
11
Physiological Sciences Graduate Interdisciplinary Program, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA. gene.alexander@arizona.edu.
12
Arizona Alzheimer's Consortium, Phoenix, AZ, USA. gene.alexander@arizona.edu.

Abstract

Previous work has confirmed the benefits of aerobic exercise for brain aging, however mechanisms underlying these effects remain unclear. Two measures of exercise, time spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), may reflect different pathways linking activity to brain health. Using data from the UK Biobank, the largest sample combining neuroimaging and objectively measured MVPA available to date (n = 7148, nmale = 3062, nfemale = 4086; age = 62.14 ± 7.40 years), we found that, when adjusted for covariates including MVPA, CRF was positively associated with overall gray matter volume (FDR p = 1.28E-05). In contrast, when adjusted for covariates including CRF, MVPA was positively associated with left and right hippocampal (FDR pleft = 0.01; FDR pright = 0.02) volumes, but not overall gray matter volume. Both CRF and MVPA were inversely associated with white matter hyperintensity lesion loads (FDR pCRF = 0.002; pMVPA = 0.02). Our results suggest separable effects of engagement in exercise behaviors (MVPA) and the physiological effects of exercise (CRF) on structural brain volumes, which may have implications for differential pathways linking exercise and brain benefits.

KEYWORDS:

Exercise; Gray matter; Hippocampus; MRI; VO2MAX

PMID:
31209836
DOI:
10.1007/s11682-019-00148-x

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