Aerobic Capacity Is Not Associated with Most Cognitive Domains in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis-A Cross-Sectional Investigation

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


  • Martin Langeskov-Christensen
  • Søren Eskildsen
  • ,
  • Egon Stenager, Department of Regional Health Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark/MS-Clinic of Southern Jutland (Sønderborg, Kolding, Esbjerg), Department of Neurology, Hospital of Southern Denmark, 6400 Sønderborg, Denmark.
  • ,
  • Henrik Boye Jensen, Brain and Nerve Diseases, Department of Neurology, Hospital Lillebaelt, 6000 Kolding, Denmark.
  • ,
  • Helle Hvilsted Nielsen, The Multiple Sclerosis Clinic, Department of Neurology, Odense University Hospital, 5000 Odense C, Denmark.
  • ,
  • Thor Petersen
  • ,
  • Lars Grøndahl Hvid, Section for Sport Science, Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.
  • ,
  • Päivi Hämäläinen, Masku Neurological Rehabilitation Centre, 21250 Masku, Finland., Finland
  • Lisbet Marstrand, The Danish Multiple Sclerosis Centre, Department of Neurology, Rigshospitalet, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • ,
  • Ulrik Dalgas

(1) Background: Cognitive impairment is highly prevalent in multiple sclerosis (MS). Staying physically fit may be associated with preservation of cognitive performance in persons with MS (pwMS); (2) Objective: To investigate the association between aerobic capacity and the cognitive domains of information processing, learning and memory, and verbal fluency as well as single and composite z-scores of the Brief Repeatable Battery of Neuropsychological tests (BRBNT) in pwMS; (3) Methods: All subjects first performed the BRBNT and then a maximal oxygen consumption (VO₂-max) test on a bicycle ergometer as a measure of aerobic capacity. Simple and multiple (adjusting for age, sex, and education level) regression analyses were performed to evaluate the relationship between aerobic capacity and cognitive performance in different domains. Published international norms were used to compute z-scores for each individual and composite BRBNT score. Furthermore, cognitive impairment was defined as one or more z-scores ≤-1.5 standard deviation (SD) of healthy controls; (4) Results: Eighty-four subjects were included (44.9 ± 9 years, 16.3 ± 2 education years, Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS): 2.6 ± 1.4, MS-type (relapsing-remitting, primary progressive, or secondary progressive): 73/6/5, disease duration: 9.9 ± 7 years, VO₂-max: 28.4 ± 7.0 mL O₂/min/kg). No significant associations between aerobic capacity and cognitive performance in the individual BRBNT tests were found, except that a weak relationship was found between aerobic capacity and the composite processing speed z-score (R² = 0.06, p = 0.02). The average global BRBNT z-score (-0.2 ± 0.66) was not associated with aerobic capacity. Comparison of the cognitively impaired group (34.5%) with the nonimpaired group (65.5%) showed lower aerobic capacity in the impaired group (25.9 ± 1 vs. 29.7 ± 1 mLO₂/min/kg, p = 0.02); (5) Conclusions: Limited support was found for an association between performance in most cognitive domains and aerobic capacity in the present MS group with a third of patients showing signs of cognitive impairments.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Pages (from-to)272
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sep 2018

    Research areas

  • aerobic training, exercise therapy, cognitive performance, cardiorespiratory fitness, VO2-max, maximal oxygen consumption

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 137636214