While endurance exercise training improves cerebrovascular health and has neurotrophic effects within the hippocampus, the effects of stopping this exercise on the brain remain unclear. The aim of this study was to measure the effects of 10 days of detraining on resting cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in gray matter and the hippocampus in healthy and physically fit older adults. Twelve master athletes, defined as older adults (age ≥ 50 years) with long-term endurance training histories (≥15 years), were recruited from local running clubs. Before and immediately after the exercise cessation period, rCBF was measured with perfusion-weighted MRI.
Resting CBF significantly decreased in eight gray matter brain regions. Additionally, rCBF within the left and right hippocampus significantly decreased after 10 days of no exercise training. These findings suggest that the cerebrovascular system, including the regulation of resting hippocampal blood flow, is responsive to short-term decreases in exercise training among master athletes. The authors suggest that cessation of exercise training among physically fit individuals may be useful for assessing the effects of acute exercise and exercise training on brain function in older adults.
Alfini AJ, Weiss LR, Leitner BP, Smith TJ, Hagberg JM, Smith JC: Hippocampal and Cerebral Blood Flow after Exercise Cessation in Master Athletes. Frontiers Aging Neurosci. 2016 Aug 5; 8:184. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2016.00184. eCollection 2016.