Salmoirago-Blotcher, E. et al| 2018|Exploring Effects of Aerobic Exercise and Mindfulness Training on Cognitive Function in Older Adults at Risk of Dementia: The Active Minds Study| Circulation| 138|Suppl_1| A12009-A12009.
New research studied participants with two risk factors for dementia to determine whether mindfulness training (MT) and aerobic training (AT) had an impact on their cognitive function.
Introduction: We conducted a pilot RCT to explore whether mindfulness training (MT), an intervention design to increase the moment-to-moment awareness of physical sensations, affective states and thoughts, alone or in combination with aerobic exercise training (AT), may improve cognitive function in individuals at risk of dementia.
Hypothesis: We hypothesized that MT and AT would improve cognitive function at the end of the intervention.
Methods: Participants with at least two risk factors for dementia were randomized to AT alone (3 sessions/week for 12 weeks), MT alone (1 session/week for 8 weeks), both interventions (MT+AT), or usual care (UC). Assessments of cognitive function including attention (Digital Symbol Substitution Test), executive function (F-A-S verbal fluency test), and episodic memory (International Shopping List Test) were conducted at baseline and end of treatment (EOT – 3 months since baseline). Scores from each measure were used to calculate a composite score (Z-scores of Attention, Verbal fluency, and Episodic memory for Non-demented adults – ZAVEN). Mixed effects longitudinal models were used to estimate intervention effects on ZAVEN scores at EOT controlling for baseline.
Results: Of the 160 screened participants, 75 were eligible and 27 were randomized. Retention rates were 96.3%. At EOT, MT alone had significantly higher ZAVEN scores compared to UC and nearly significantly higher scores compared to AT alone. Findings were driven mostly by effects of MT on executive function and episodic memory.
Conclusions: These results suggest a possible effect of MT on cognitive function in older individuals at risk of dementia. AT did not improve cognitive function and may require a longer intervention duration to show an effect. These promising findings need to be confirmed in a larger RCT.
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