High-intensity interval exercise improves cognitive performance and reduces matrix metalloproteinases-2 serum levels in persons with multiple sclerosis: A randomized controlled trial

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First Published August 21, 2017 Research Article 

Philipp Zimmer, Wilhelm Bloch,Alexander Schenk, Max ObersteStefan RiedelJan KoolDawn LangdonUlrik DalgasJrg KesselringJens Bansi


Aerobic exercise can improve cognitive performance in healthy elderly people.

The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of a 3-week high-intensity aerobic exercise programme (high-intensity training group (HIT)) on cognitive performance in persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) compared with a standard exercise programme (control training (CT)).

A total of 60 persons with MS (Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS): 1.0--6.5) were randomized to a HIT group (3/week for 20minutes, including five 3-minute exercise intervals at 80% of peak oxygen uptake (VO2-peak)) or a CT group (continuously 5/week for 30minutes/session at 65% of VO2-peak). Cognitive performance was assessed using the Brief International Cognitive Assessment for MS at entry (t0) and discharge (t1). Furthermore, VO2-peak, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, serotonin and matrix metalloproteinases (MMP)-2 and -9 were measured.

Compared to CT, HIT significantly improved verbal memory. Significant improvements over time in executive functions were found in both groups. Secondary outcomes indicated significant improvements in VO2-peak and a significant reduction in MMP-2 in the HIT group only.

HIT represents a promising strategy to improve verbal memory and physical fitness in persons with MS. Further research is needed to determine the impact of exercise on biomarkers in MS.

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