Exploring synergistic effects of aerobic exercise and mindfulness training on cognitive function in older adults: Protocol for a pilot randomized controlled trial

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Abstract

Introduction:

Despite increasing evidence that aerobic exercise and cognitive training improve cognitive function among patients with cognitive impairment and dementia, few studies have focused on the effect of a combination of these approaches. This study will explore whether combining aerobic training (AT) with mindfulness training (MT), an intervention promoting the moment-to-moment awareness of physical sensations, affective states, and thoughts, improves cognitive function in individuals at risk of dementia. The primary objective is to determine the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention(s). The secondary objective is to obtain estimates of effect sizes on cognitive function and on possible mediators.

Methods and analysis:

Forty participants with at least 2 risk factors for dementia will be randomized (2 × 2 factorial design) to either AT (3 sessions/week for 12 weeks), MT (1 session/week for 8 weeks), both, or usual care. Assessments of cognitive function (attention, executive function, episodic, and working memory); physical activity (accelerometry), aerobic capacity (6-minute walk test), waist-to-hip ratio, blood pressure, social support (Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support), depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale), and mindfulness (Five Facets of Mindfulness) will be conducted at baseline, end of treatment, and 6-months postbaseline. Rates of retention, attendance, and program satisfaction will be calculated for each of the 4 groups to determine the feasibility and acceptability of each intervention.

Ethics and dissemination:

This study has full ethical approval by The Miriam Hospital Institutional Review Board and adheres to the Standard Protocol Items: Recommendations for Interventional Trials reporting recommendations. If results from this exploratory, proof-of-concept study support our hypotheses, we will conduct a large randomized controlled trial (RCT) to determine the efficacy of combined MT and AT in improving cognitive function in individuals at risk of dementia. Results from the study will be disseminated through peer-reviewed journals and conference presentations.

Registration details:

http://www.clinicalstrials.gov identifier NCT03289546.

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