Train Smart Study: protocol for a randomised trial investigating the role of exercise training dose on markers of brain health in sedentary middle-aged adults

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Broatch, James ORCID: 0000-0002-0082-3168, Zarekookandeh, Navabeh ORCID: 0000-0002-5500-7328, Glarin, Rebecca, Strik, Myrte, Johnston, Leigh A, Moffat, Bradford A, Bird, Laura J, Gunningham, Kate, Churilov, Leonid, Johns, Hannah T, Askew, Christopher D ORCID: 0000-0001-8076-8789, Levinger, Itamar ORCID: 0000-0001-9194-2033, O'Riordan, Shane ORCID: 0000-0002-1022-4492, Bishop, David ORCID: 0000-0002-6956-9188 and Brodtmann, Amy (2023) Train Smart Study: protocol for a randomised trial investigating the role of exercise training dose on markers of brain health in sedentary middle-aged adults. BMJ Open, 13 (5). ISSN 2044-6055


Introduction Regular aerobic exercise is associated with improved cognitive function, implicating it as a strategy to reduce dementia risk. This is reinforced by the association between greater cardiorespiratory fitness and larger brain volume, superior cognitive performance and lower dementia risk. However, the optimal aerobic exercise dose, namely the intensity and mode of delivery, to improve brain health and lower dementia risk has received less attention. We aim to determine the effect of different doses of aerobic exercise training on markers of brain health in sedentary middle-aged adults, hypothesising that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) will be more beneficial than moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT). Methods and analysis In this two-group parallel, open-label blinded endpoint randomised trial, 70 sedentary middle-aged (45-65 years) adults will be randomly allocated to one of two 12-week aerobic exercise training interventions matched for total exercise training volume: (1) MICT (n=35) or HIIT (n=35). Participants will perform ∼50 min exercise training sessions, 3 days per week, for 12 weeks. The primary outcome will be measured as between-group difference in cardiorespiratory fitness (peak oxygen uptake) change from baseline to the end of training. Secondary outcomes include between-group differences in cognitive function and ultra-high field MRI (7T) measured markers of brain health (brain blood flow, cerebrovascular function, brain volume, white matter microstructural integrity and resting state functional brain activity) changes from baseline to the end of training. Ethics and dissemination The Victoria University Human Research Ethics Committee (VUHREC) has approved this study (HRE20178), and all protocol modifications will be communicated to the relevant parties (eg, VUHREC, trial registry). Findings from this study will be disseminated via peer-review publications, conference presentations, clinical communications and both mainstream and social media. Trial registration number ANZCTR12621000144819.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-069413
Official URL
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4207 Sports science and exercise
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Keywords exercise training, brain health, middle age adults, adult health, cognitive function, dementia risk
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