AbstractAerobic exercise has been shown to improve both cognition and gait in Parkinson's disease (PD). However, it remains unknown whether exercise selectively influences cognition and gait in cognitively intact and cognitively impaired individuals with PD. This study aimed to investigate whether cognitive status influences the potential benefits of aerobic exercise on cognition and gait in PD. Thirty-nine individuals with PD were randomly allocated into an aerobic exercise or a control group. Participants were classified at baseline as cognitively intact or impaired. The aerobic group attended 60-minute sessions, 3x/week, for 12 weeks, while the control group carried on with their typical daily activities. Assessments included ten neuropsychological tests, in addition to single and dual-task gait. An interaction between time and group found for processing speed (p=0.02) showed that the aerobic group was faster after intervention (p=0.046). A time by group by cognitive status interaction for processing speed (p=0.034) revealed that cognitively impaired control participants worsened after 12 weeks. Another time by group by cognitive status interaction was found for inhibitory control (p=0.048), showing that both cognitively intact (p=0.039) and impaired (p=0.030) participants improved inhibition after aerobic exercise, while only cognitively impaired control participants (p=0.006) were better at post-test. In relation to gait, a time by task by group interaction was found for step width (p=0.029), demonstrating that at post-test the aerobic group had wider steps (p=0.005) while the control group had narrower steps (0.024) during dual-task walking. Results suggest that both cognitively intact and cognitively impaired individuals with PD may benefit from aerobic exercise.
Acknowledgments: Canada Foundation for Innovation, Sun Life Financial, and CNPq