An Rx for exercise

By Jeff Carlton

EXERT study

Interested in learning more about participating in this clinical trial?

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must be between the ages of 65 and 89
  • Have a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
  • Participants must be in good health but not already exercise regularly

For more information contact Kim Brown, Clinical Research Coordinator, at 817-735-2694 or brown@unthsc.edu

Alzheimer’s disease experts at UNT Health Science Center are part of a new study that could help determine whether physicians can one day write a prescription for exercise as a way to prevent or delay memory problems.

The Health Science Center, in partnership with the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth, is the only site in Texas and one of about a dozen nationally participating in the EXERT study. This national, 18-month-long clinical trial is testing whether exercise can slow the progression of early Alzheimer’s disease-related memory problems or mild cognitive impairment in adults 65 and older.

“We’ve known for a long time that physical activity can affect brain performance,” said Sid O’Bryant, PhD, Professor, Center for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Disease Research at UNTHSC. “What we’re trying to nail down is whether there’s a magic dose of exercise that would be most effective.”

More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, a figure that is expected to triple in the next 30 years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, and the only one among the top nine that can’t be cured, prevented or effectively slowed.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved just four medications for Alzheimer’s disease since 2000. All four treat the symptoms of the disease but do not address its basic underlying biology.

“Imagine if your doctor could write you a prescription for exercise that would help prevent memory problems,” Dr. O’Bryant said. “That’s what we’re aiming at.”

Adults between the ages of 65 and 89 and with a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are eligible for the study. They must otherwise be in good health, but not already be exercising regularly.

Those who don’t have an MCI diagnosis but do have mild memory loss may be eligible for a different research project known as the Health and Aging Brain Study that examines biological and lifestyle factors that influence memory and thinking.

EXERT study participants receive a free 18-month membership to the YMCA, along with a year of free personal training. Roughly half of the participants will start an aerobic exercise program, and the other half will undergo a regimen of balance and stretching exercises, all under the supervision of a YMCA personal trainer.

“The YMCA has long promoted the value of exercise to the community,” said Lindsi Smith, Vice President, Community Wellness & Health Innovation at YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth. “We look forward to showing that the right amount of exercise can play a critical role in the prevention of chronic disease.”

Recent News

Ram flyer
  • Community
|Nov 23, 2022

Free pop-up medical, vision and dental clinic is just a week away

The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth and Remote Area Medical – RAM® — a nonprofit provider of pop-up clinics that delivers free quality dental, vision and medical care to those in need — are bringing the free health care clinic to Dallas on Dec. 3 and 4. After th...
Mathis, Borjas, Luna Smith Hsc Teaching Chair
  • Community
|Nov 18, 2022

HSC partners with Fort Worth ISD to honor outstanding science teacher 

The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth is committed to supporting science and health education for students at all levels of their academic journeys.  Since last year, HSC has sponsored Fort Worth Independent School District’s Chair for Teaching Excellence in Seconda...
Dr. Sid O'Bryant
  • Research
|Nov 14, 2022

Key study results from HSC’s Institute for Translational Research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease

Findings from a recent study by the team at the Institute for Translational Research led by Dr. Sid O’Bryant at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth have been published by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. The article, “Characterization of Mild Cognitive Impairme...
John Mulstad
  • Our People
|Nov 11, 2022

Recognizing veterans in HSC’s School of Health Professions

Today, and every day, we are proud to recognize the faculty, staff and students of the School of Health Professions who have answered the selfless call to serve as health care providers and in their country's military. We commend and celebrate the patriotism, sacrifices and selfless service of al...