KU Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center Searches for Perfect Mix of Exercise for Cognition Health

October 24, 2022

women and trainer exercising.

Local researchers are seeking 280 people, ages 65 to 80, to participate in a study about exercise and cognitive health.

Scientists at the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (KU ADRC) and KU Center for Physical Activity and Weight Management (CPAWM) want to know if there’s a perfect mix of aerobic and strength training that will help older adults maintain their cognition and functional health as they age.

To answer that question, investigators are using the Combined Exercise Trial (COMET study) – the largest of its kind specifically comparing aerobic activity and strength training alone, as well as in combination, and those activities’ impact on cognition in older adults. Local researchers are seeking 280 people, ages 65 to 80, to participate in the five-year clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health.  

One of the study’s goals is to learn if there’s a specific type or combination of exercise that’s superior in benefitting older adults’ brain health. It’s an important question given the U.S. Centers for Disease Control encourages older adults to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity weekly, along with at least two days of strength training. COMET is looking at whether following the public health guidelines is superior to engaging in just one of these forms of exercise, not only for the brain but also functionally for older adults. Study participants receive a paid gym membership. Most exercise sessions occur at YMCA locations, where local COVID-19 safety and health guidelines are in place.

“With the exception of a small pilot several years ago, the COMET study is different from other exercise trials because strength training is added to the mix,” said Amanda Szabo-Reed, Ph.D., research assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and in CPAWM. She is co-principal investigator on the study with Eric Vidoni, PT, Ph.D., an associate professor at the KU ADRC.

Funding from the Johnson County Education Research Triangle supports the KU Clinical Research Center, where the KU ADRC conducts clinical trials and works with community volunteers to explore interventions that prevent, delay and treat Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

For more information about the COMET study or to enroll in the trial, call 913-588-0555, email kuadrc@kumc.edu or visit the KU ADRC website.