One Year of Aerobic Exercise Improved Brain Vascular Health in Older Adults

Rockville, Md. (November 10, 2022)—A year of aerobic exercise training reduced impedance (effective resistance to blood flow) in the brain blood vessels of older adults, according to a new study from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. The findings are published ahead of print in the Journal of Applied Physiology, and the study has been chosen as an APSselect article for November.  

“These findings demonstrate the benefits of aerobic exercise on brain vascular health, which is essential to maintain brain function in old age.” —Rong Zhang, PhD

Older adults have higher cerebrovascular impedance than younger people, which might contribute to chronic reduction of blow flood in the brain. A lifestyle with little to no exercise can lead to many adverse health effects, according to the National Library of Medicine, among them:

  • Obesity
  • Heart diseases
  • Diabetes

Researchers examined 73 older adults randomly split into two groups for this study. The volunteers, ages 60 to 80, engaged in brisk walking and jogging to measure the impact of exercise on brain blood flow. The intensity of the exercise program was based on each participant’s fitness and progressively increased from three exercise sessions per week for 25 to 30 minutes to four to five sessions per week by week 26, as participants adapted to previous workloads.

The findings of this study suggest prolonged aerobic exercise training may prevent or reduce age-related increases in cerebrovascular impedance. “These findings demonstrate the benefits of aerobic exercise on brain vascular health, which is essential to maintain brain function in old age,” said Rong Zhang, PhD, senior study author and professor at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. 

Read the full article, “Aerobic exercise training reduces cerebrovascular impedance in older adults: a one-year randomized controlled trial.” It is highlighted as one of this month’s “best of the best” as part of the American Physiological Society’s APSselect program. Read all of this month’s selected research articles

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To schedule an interview with a member of the research team, please contact APS Media Relations or call 301.634.7314. Find more research highlights in our Newsroom

Physiology is a broad area of scientific inquiry that focuses on how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. The American Physiological Society connects a global, multidisciplinary community of more than 10,000 biomedical scientists and educators as part of its mission to advance scientific discovery, understand life and improve health. The Society drives collaboration and spotlights scientific discoveries through its 16 scholarly journals and programming that support researchers and educators in their work.