Resistance Training Maintains White Matter and Physical Function in Older Women with Cerebral Small Vessel Disease: An Exploratory Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial.

Oh J
Crockett RA
Hsu CL
Dao E
Tam R
Liu-Ambrose T
Scientific Abstract

As the aging population grows, there is an increasing need to develop accessible interventions against risk factors for cognitive impairment and dementia, such as cerebral small vessel disease (CSVD). The progression of white matter hyperintensities (WMHs), a key hallmark of CSVD, can be slowed by resistance training (RT). We hypothesize RT preserves white matter integrity and that this preservation is associated with improved cognitive and physical function.

To determine if RT preserves regional white matter integrity and if any changes are associated with cognitive and physical outcomes.

Using magnetic resonance imaging data from a 12-month randomized controlled trial, we compared the effects of a twice-weekly 60-minute RT intervention versus active control on T1-weighted over T2-weighted ratio (T1w/T2w; a non-invasive proxy measure of white matter integrity) in a subset of study participants (N = 21 females, mean age = 69.7 years). We also examined the association between changes in T1w/T2w with two key outcomes of the parent study: (1) selective attention and conflict resolution, and (2) peak muscle power.

Compared with an active control group, RT increased T1w/T2w in the external capsule ( = 0.024) and posterior thalamic radiations ( = 0.013) to a greater degree. Increased T1w/T2w in the external capsule was associated with an increase in peak muscle power ( = 0.043) in the RT group.

By maintaining white matter integrity, RT may be a promising intervention to counteract the pathological changes that accompany CSVD, while improving functional outcomes such as muscle power.


2023. J Alzheimers Dis Rep, 7(1):627-639.

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