The AdventHealth Neuroscience Institute will be leading a research study on exercise and brain health after receiving $11 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health.
The Follow-up Longitudinal Analysis of Moderate-intensity Exercise, or FLAME, study is the first of its kind and will commence in early 2024. The study will examine if participating in moderate intensity exercise “influences the rate of cognitive performance changes and risk for Alzheimer’s disease pathology five years later.”
The study is a follow up to a previous clinical trial, the “Investigating Gains in Neurocognition in an Intervention Trial of Exercise,” or IGNITE, from 2016. That trial examined the effects of exercise on cognitive and brain health.
The IGNITE study tested a sample of 648 adults ranging from 65 to 80 years old, and the FLAME study will recontact those participants to re-evaluate their cognition alongside aspects of “exercise behaviors, health and physical function among participants.”
The team conducting the survey is interested in learning how participants can “capitalize and leverage” the natural properties of the brain to maintain and improve function, Kirk Erickson, lead researcher and director of translational neuroscience at the AdventHealth Neuroscience Institute, said in the release.
Erickson told Senior Housing News that participants will take part in a comprehensive cognitive and mental testing regimen, including a 90-minute brain MRI assessment; collection of blood samples; measures of arterial stiffness; walking speed and variability; body composition; measures of depression, anxiety and fatigue; measures of daily activity; and a stress test.
The study will be conducted over the next four to five years and will require 2,592 assessments to complete in total.
“We are excited for those results as well as the potential for related breakthroughs that may be accomplished in that time as a result of our work,” Erickson said.
In the release, Erickson noted the study may expand the understanding of how exercise affects the brain and Alzheimer’s disease, which can be used to motivate patients to maintain a more physically active lifestyle to potentially reduce the risk of developing the disease.
“While many believe that our brain simply deteriorates, atrophies and declines inevitably, we are finding that there are things we can do about it and that the brain retains its capacity for modification – even late into life,” he said.
The study will take part at three sites: the University of Pittsburgh, Northeastern University and the University of Kansas Medical Center. Alongside Erickson, researchers will include Drs. Jeffery Burns, Eric Vidoni, Chaeryon Kang, Anna Marsland, Dan Forman, Thomas Karikari, Arthur Kramer, Charles Hillman and Edward McAuley.
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