All participants underwent neuropsychological tests of learning and memory and hippocampal neuroimaging before and after their 12-weeks of exercise.
Researchers saw improvements in verbal learning and memory in the intervention group and preservation of hippocampal volume. Non-significant effects were found on functional connectivity.
These results provide initial proof-of-concept data for the use of treadmill training for walking exercise as a possible behavioral approach for managing the deleterious effects of MS on learning and memory.
“This study is an important first step in the development of an intervention targeted at the specific cognitive domains affected by MS,” said Dr. Brian Sandroff, Ph.D., a senior research scientist in the Center for Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Research at Kessler Foundation.
Showing efficacy for low-cost, non-invasive, widely available interventions will help us manage the effects of MS, supporting individuals striving to maintain their participation at home, at work, and in their communities.
To pursue the findings, larger-scale studies are needed to explore the relationships between exercise training and functional and structural changes in the brain, and the optimal protocols for clinical implementation.