Brain Sci. 2013, 3(1), 54-83; doi:10.3390/brainsci3010054
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Physical Activity and Brain Function in Older Adults at Increased Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease

1 Department of Kinesiology, School of Public Health, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA 2 Department of Psychology, Marquette University, PO Box 1881, Milwaukee, WI 53201, USA 3 Department of Neurology, Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 Watertown Plank Road, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA 4 Department of Psychology, Wayne State University, 5057 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202, USA 5 Department of Psychology, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, 3333 Green Bay Rd, North Chicago, IL 60064, USA 6 Schey Center for Cognitive Neuroimaging, Neurological Institute, Cleveland Clinic, 9500 Euclid Ave/U10, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 September 2012; in revised form: 16 November 2012 / Accepted: 20 December 2012 / Published: 14 January 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise and Brain Function)
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Abstract: Leisure-time physical activity (PA) and exercise training are known to help maintain cognitive function in healthy older adults. However, relatively little is known about the effects of PA on cognitive function or brain function in those at increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease through the presence of the apolipoproteinE epsilon4 (APOE-ε4) allele, diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), or the presence of metabolic disease. Here, we examine the question of whether PA and exercise interventions may differentially impact cognitive trajectory, clinical outcomes, and brain structure and function among individuals at the greatest risk for AD. The literature suggests that the protective effects of PA on risk for future dementia appear to be larger in those at increased genetic risk for AD. Exercise training is also effective at helping to promote stable cognitive function in MCI patients, and greater cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with greater brain volume in early-stage AD patients. In APOE-ε4 allele carriers compared to non-carriers, greater levels of PA may be more effective in reducing amyloid burden and are associated with greater activation of semantic memory-related neural circuits. A greater research emphasis should be placed on randomized clinical trials for exercise, with clinical, behavioral, and neuroimaging outcomes in people at increased risk for AD.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; cognition; exercise; physical activity; APOE genotype; genetic risk; mild cognitive impairment; memory; MRI; neuroimaging

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MDPI and ACS Style

Smith, J.C.; Nielson, K.A.; Woodard, J.L.; Seidenberg, M.; Rao, S.M. Physical Activity and Brain Function in Older Adults at Increased Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease. Brain Sci. 2013, 3, 54-83.

AMA Style

Smith JC, Nielson KA, Woodard JL, Seidenberg M, Rao SM. Physical Activity and Brain Function in Older Adults at Increased Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease. Brain Sciences. 2013; 3(1):54-83.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Smith, J. C.; Nielson, Kristy A.; Woodard, John L.; Seidenberg, Michael; Rao, Stephen M. 2013. "Physical Activity and Brain Function in Older Adults at Increased Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease." Brain Sci. 3, no. 1: 54-83.

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