A research study headed by Victoria Leavitt, Ph.D. and James Sumowski, Ph.D., of Kessler Foundation, provides the first evidence for beneficial effects of aerobic exercise on brain and memory in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Hippocampal atrophy seen in MS is linked to the memory deficits that affect approximately 50% of individuals with MS. Despite the prevalence of this disabling symptom, there are no effective pharmacological or behavioural treatments. ‘Aerobic exercise may be the first effective treatment for MS patients with memory problems,’ noted Dr. Leavitt, research scientist in Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Research at Kessler Foundation. ‘Moreover, aerobic exercise has the advantages of being readily available, low cost, self-administered, and lacking in side effects.’ No beneficial effects were seen with non-aerobic exercise. Dr. Leavitt noted that the positive effects of aerobic exercise were specific to memory; other cognitive functions such as executive functioning and processing speed were unaffected.