As mounting scientific evidence suggests that exercise may help older people with memory problems, researchers at Great Lakes Clinical Trials are opening enrollment for a national clinical trial to determine just how much and what kind of physical exercise might best work to slow or help to offset the impact of early memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The EXERT Study, taking place at 15 academic medical centers and clinics across the country, aims to identify the right dose of exercise by “treating” 300 adults between 65-89, who don’t regularly exercise and are experiencing the early and mild memory loss associated with AD and known as “mild cognitive impairment”.
The long period of time in which people are mildly impaired, but can still carry out the everyday tasks of living, may be the perfect opportunity to test whether exercise can change the progression of AD. In EXERT, researchers are looking to identify the right “prescription” or “dose” that might slow down, preserve or even improve cognitive function and quality of life for older folks already experiencing the early memory problems associated with AD.
Many groups and individuals, including women, African-Americans, and Hispanic and Latino Americans run a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The EXERT study is designed to find a way to help people from all backgrounds with a community-based solution to treat early memory loss in people at high risk for AD.
Y-USA’s partnership in EXERT will help to ensure the feasibility of ramping up community-wide programs across the country.
In the EXERT Study, after screening and qualifying for the study, participants are randomly assigned to either a high intensity aerobic exercise group or a moderate intensity stretching-toning-balance group. All EXERT participants must be willing to participate in the group to which they are assigned to avoid any bias in the study. Study participants receive a membership to the McGaw YMCA in Evanston and will be working out four times a week (twice a week with a personal trainer and twice a week on their own) for 12 months. Each EXERT participant will then spend another six months continuing to work out on their own at the Y.