Aerobic exercise looks promising for restoring function in multiple sclerosis patients
A new study has found initial evidence for strong and selective associations among aerobic fitness, cognitive processing speed, and walking endurance in individuals with thalamic atrophy (TA), a major biomarker for neurodegeneration and associated physical and cognitive decline in those with multiple sclerosis (MS).
The study, published in the Journal of Neurology, was conducted by researchers at the Kessler Foundation in New Jersey. Investigators sought to examine whether aerobic fitness was differentially associated with cognitive processing speed and walking endurance in people with MS who present with and without TA.
The team conducted a cross-sectional study to examine the associations among aerobic fitness, cognitive processing speed, and walking endurance in individuals with and without thalamic atrophy. Researchers engaged 44 individuals with MS from three randomized controlled trials. Outcomes included aerobic fitness (peak oxygen consumption during graded treadmill exercise), processing speed (Symbol Digit Modalities Test), walking endurance (six-min walk test), and thalamic neuroimaging.
“This study suggests that aerobic exercise training has the potential to restore function in individuals with thalamic atrophy, who are clearly at risk for progressive physical and cognitive decline,” said Brian Sandroff, PhD, a senior research scientist in the Center for Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Research at Kessler Foundation and one of the authors of the study in a statement. “To explore the impact on outcomes, we need to develop randomized controlled trials of aerobic exercise training in the subgroup presenting with thalamic atrophy.”