Assessing High-Intensity Exercise to Prevent Alzheimer Disease: Stephen Rao, PhD; Jay Alberts, PhD


A duo of researchers from Cleveland Clinic outlined their new 5-year study that tests home-based intervention in high-risk individuals for Alzheimer disease.

"If we can delay the onset by just 5 years, we can cut the number of people who have Alzheimer’s in half. If we delay it by 10 years, we can basically wipe out the disease. Prevention is sometimes the better way the go than treating someone who already has the disease and then try to reverse the effects.”

Cleveland Clinic was recently awarded a $6.7 million grant to evaluate if high-intensity exercise, using the home-based indoor cycling Peleton bike, can prevent the development of Alzheimer disease (AD). The 5-year study, led by Stephen Rao, PhD, and Jay Alberts, PhD, will assess the effect of this intervention in slowing disease progression in healthy older people at high genetic risk for developing the disease.

If successful, the trial has the potential to provide a scalable, low-cost intervention capable of substantially reducing healthcare costs by modifying the trajectory of the disease. The effects that exercise has on cognition and potentially lowering the risk of AD has been previously observed, but not in this same capacity. A total of 150 healthy, sedentary individuals between ages 65 and 80 years who carry the apolipoprotein E epsilon (APOE4) allele will be enrolled in the study.

Rao, director of the Schey Center for Cogntive Neuroimaging at Cleveland Clinic, and Alberts, The Edward F. and Barbara A. Bell Family Endowed Chair at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, sat down to discuss their study. In this interview, they provide a background of how the study will be conducted, how it differs from other previous exercise-based research projects, and the long-term goals they are looking to complete.

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