Epub: Sandroff et al. Acute effects of walking, cycling, and yoga exercise on cognition in persons with relapsing-remittingmultiple sclerosis without impaired cognitive processing speed. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2015 Feb 6:1-11.
Background: Cognitive impairment is a highly prevalent, disabling, and poorly managed consequence of MS. Exercise training represents a promising approach for managing cognitive impairment in this population. However, there is limited evidence supporting an optimal exercise stimulus for improving cognition in MS.
Objective: The current study compared the acute effects of moderate-intensity treadmill walking, moderate-intensity cycle ergometry, and guided yoga with those of quiet rest on executive control in 24 RRMSer without impaired cognitive processing speed using a within-subjects, repeated measures design.
Method: Participants completed four experimental conditions that consisted of 20 minutes of moderate-intensity treadmill walking exercise, moderate-intensity cycle ergometer exercise, guided yoga, and quiet rest in a randomized, counterbalanced order. Participants underwent a modified-flanker task as a measure of executive control immediately prior to and following each condition.
Results: Repeated measures analyses of variance indicated general pre-to-post improvements in reaction time, but not accuracy, on the modified-flanker task for all three exercise modalities compared with quiet rest. However, there were additional, selective pre-to-post reductions in the cost of interfering stimuli on reaction time on the modified-flanker task for treadmill walking, F(1, 23) = 4.67, p = .04, ηp2= .17, but not cycle ergometry, F(1, 23) = 0.12, p = .73, ηp2 < .01, or guided yoga, F(1, 23) = 0.73, p = .40, ηp2 = .03, compared with quiet rest.
Conclusions: The present results support treadmill walking as the modality of exercise that might exert the largest beneficial effects on executive control in persons with relapsing-remitting MS without impaired cognitive processing speed. This represents an exciting starting point for delineating the appropriate exercise stimulus (i.e., modality and intensity) for inclusion in a subsequent longitudinal exercise training intervention for improving cognitive performance in this population.