Recent research offers evidence that aerobic exercise may benefit memory in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Kessler Foundation’s Victoria Leavitt, PhD, and James Sumowski, PhD, reportedly led the study. Leavitt notes that aerobic exercise may be, “the first effective treatment for MS patients with memory problems.”
Leavitt also highlighted the positive effects of aerobic exercise, which he notes were specific to memory while other cognitive functions such as executive functioning and processing speed were unaffected.
According to a news release from Kessler Foundation, the study encompassed two MS patients with memory deficits. The participants were randomized to non-aerobic (stretching) and aerobic (stationary cycling) conditions.
The researchers note that baseline and follow-up measurements were recorded prior to and after the treatment protocol, which featured 30-minute exercise sessions three times per week for 3 months. High-resolution MRI (neuroanatomical volumes), fMRI (functional connectivity), and memory assessment were used to collect data.
The results indicate that aerobic exercise resulted in a 16.5% increase in hippocampal volume, a 53.7% increase in memory, as well as increased hippocampal resting-state functional connectivity. By contrast, the study suggests non-aerobic exercise resulted in minimal change in hippocampal volume and no changes in memory or functional connectivity.
Sumowski emphasizes that the results, “clearly warrant large-scale clinical trials of aerobic exercise for the treatment of memory deficits in the MS population.”
[Source: Kessler Foundation]