A Word from Dr. Kirby – Aerobic Exercise associated with improved Cognitive Performance in Younger and Older Adults

Hi Brenda,

Another article.

Aerobic Exercise associated with improved Cognitive Performance in Younger and Older Adults

This is a brief summary of a very recent article in the journal Neurology regarding the effect of exercise on the brain’s function (cognitive performance) and also weight loss. The comment below the summary is from an editor of Journal Watch which provides these summaries to me.
The apolipoprotein E4 is a gene carried by a large number of persons who suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease. The report notes that exercise did not benefit those persons who carry this gene.
Erle Kirby

More evidence supports positive effects of aerobic exercise on cognitive outcomes, especially in older adults.

Aerobic exercise can improve cognition and increase cortical thickness in older adults. In this randomized, community-based clinical trial, researchers examined whether aerobic exercise can affect cognitive performance in younger adults. At baseline, 132 adults aged 20 to 67 (mean, about 40) were cognitively normal with below-average fitness. All participants were randomized into an aerobic exercise or a stretching/toning condition, exercising for 40 to 55 minutes four times a week for 6 months.

Outcomes included aerobic capacity (maximum oxygen uptake), cognitive performance, body-mass index (BMI), and cortical thickness. Aerobic exercise (but not stretching and toning) was associated with increased aerobic capacity, decreased BMI, and increased left middle frontal cortical thickness. Improvement in executive function was also seen in the aerobic exercise condition, especially with increasing age and in those without an apolipoprotein E ℇ4 allele.


These findings provide further support that aerobic exercise can improve physical and cognitive outcomes. Aerobic exercise can be recommended as a strategy for brain health for both younger and older adults, and the benefit to executive functioning may be more robust with increasing age. The participants in the study were healthy overall, and improvements in executive functioning were not seen in those with the apolipoprotein E ℇ4 allele. How risk factors such as diabetes mellitus and hypertension may modify these results requires more study.

Here is a link to the actual article for anyone who wishes to look more deeply into it:

Stern Y et al. Effect of aerobic exercise on cognition in younger adults: A randomized clinical trial. Neurology 2019 Jan 30; 92:e905. (https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000007003)
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One comment

  1. Linda Lafortune

    Considering the potential negative effect of Ford’s and his Conservative goevernment’s cuts to health care, we should be paying attention to all the information and advice That Dr. Kirby is providing. Better stay healthy and strong.