Exercise Dose and Aerobic Fitness Response in Alzheimer's Dementia: Findings from the FIT-AD Trial

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a 6-month cycling aerobic exercise intervention on cardiorespiratory fitness and the dose-response relationship in community-dwelling older adults with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's dementia. The FIT-AD trial was a single blind, 2-parallel group, pilot randomized controlled trial. The aerobic exercise group participated in a 6-month, thrice weekly, moderate-vigorous intensity cycling intervention while control group performed stretching. Cardiorespiratory fitness was evaluated by peak oxygen consumption from cardiopulmonary exercise test and peak walking distance from the shuttle walk test and 6-minute walk test. Aerobic exercise dose was calculated using the novel heart rate physical activity score. The aerobic exercise group significantly increased peak oxygen consumption (1.28 ml/kg/min; p=0.03) in subgroup who achieved maximal criteria on cardiopulmonary exercise test. Changes in peak oxygen consumption and peak walking distance on the shuttle walk and 6-minute walk tests did not significantly differ between aerobic exercise and stretching groups. Notably, the aerobic exercise dose was strongly and significantly correlated to change in peak oxygen consumption (r=0.60; n=16; p=0.01), in subset who met maximal test criteria. Emphasis on exercise dose is needed in aerobic exercise programs to maximize cardiorespiratory fitness gains in persons with mild-moderate Alzheimer's dementia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)850-858
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Aug 11 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The FIT-AD Trial was supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health Award Number 1R01AG043392-01A1. The CTSI and Center for Magnetic Resonance Resources were supported by the National Institutes of Health National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health Award Number UL1TR000114 and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering Award Number P41 EB1058941, respectively. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. We thank the study participants and their families for participating in the trial and the study staff for caring for our participants and implementing the trial according to the protocol.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Georg Thieme Verlag. All rights reserved.


  • Alzheimerʼs disease
  • Cardiorespiratory fitness
  • cognition
  • dementia
  • exercise
  • exercise dose
  • cardiorespiratory fitness
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Alzheimer Disease/therapy
  • Cardiorespiratory Fitness/physiology
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Oxygen Consumption/physiology
  • Exercise
  • Physical Fitness
  • Aged

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Journal Article


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