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Aerobic exercise increases hippocampal volume in older women with probable mild cognitive impairment: a 6-month randomised controlled trial


ten Brinke, Lisanne F., Bolandzadeh, Niousha, Nagamatsu, Lindsay S., Hsu, Chun Liang, Davis, Jennifer C., Miran-Khan, Karim, Liu-Ambrose, Teresa


British Journal Of Sports Medicine, Volume: 49, No.: 4, Pages.: 248-254

Year of Publication



Background: Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a well-recognised risk factor for dementia and represents a vital opportunity for intervening. Exercise is a promising strategy for combating cognitive decline by improving brain structure and function. Specifically, aerobic training (AT) improved spatial memory and hippocampal volume in healthy community-dwelling older adults. In older women with probable MCI, we previously demonstrated that resistance training (RT) and AT improved memory. In this secondary analysis, we investigated: (1) the effect of RT and AT on hippocampal volume and (2) the association between change in hippocampal volume and change in memory.; Methods: 86 women aged 70-80 years with probable MCI were randomly assigned to a 6-month, twice-weekly programme of: (1) AT, (2) RT or (3) balance and tone training (BAT; ie, control). At baseline and trial completion, participants performed a 3T MRI scan to determine hippocampal volume. Verbal memory and learning were assessed by Rey’s Auditory Verbal Learning Test.; Results: Compared with the BAT group, AT significantly improved left, right and total hippocampal volumes (p≤0.03). After accounting for baseline cognitive function and experimental group, increased left hippocampal volume was independently associated with reduced verbal memory and learning performance as indexed by loss after interference (r=0.42, p=0.03).; Conclusions: Aerobic training significantly increased hippocampal volume in older women with probable MCI. More research is needed to ascertain the relevance of exercise-induced changes in hippocampal volume on memory performance in older adults with MCI.; Trail Registration Number: NCT00958867.; Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to

Bibtex Citation

@article{ten_Brinke_2014, doi = {10.1136/bjsports-2013-093184}, url = {}, year = 2014, month = {apr}, publisher = {{BMJ}}, volume = {49}, number = {4}, pages = {248--254}, author = {Lisanne F ten Brinke and Niousha Bolandzadeh and Lindsay S Nagamatsu and Chun Liang Hsu and Jennifer C Davis and Karim Miran-Khan and Teresa Liu-Ambrose}, title = {Aerobic exercise increases hippocampal volume in older women with probable mild cognitive impairment: a 6-month randomised controlled trial}, journal = {British Journal of Sports Medicine} }


aerobic fitness, aged, aged, 80 and over, aging, anatomy histology, cardiovascular, exercise, female, gender issues, hippocampus, humans, magnetic resonance imaging, memory disorders, methods, mild cognitive impairment, organ size, pathology, physiology, resistance training, singleblind method, therapy, treatment outcome, vo2 max

Countries of Study


Types of Dementia

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

Types of Study

Randomised Controlled Trial

Type of Outcomes




Type of Interventions

Non-pharmacological Treatment

Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions

Exercise (inc. dancing)