Resistance Training and White Matter Lesion Progression in Older Women: Exploratory Analysis of a 12-Month Randomized Controlled Trial

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2015 Oct;63(10):2052-60. doi: 10.1111/jgs.13644. Epub 2015 Oct 12.


Objectives: To assess whether resistance training (RT) slows the progression of white matter lesions (WMLs) in older women.

Design: Secondary analysis of a 52-week randomized controlled trial of RT, the Brain Power Study.

Setting: Community center and research center.

Participants: Of 155 community-dwelling women aged 65 to 75 enrolled in the Brain Power Study, 54 who had evidence of WMLs on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at baseline were included in this secondary analysis.

Intervention: Participants were randomized to once-weekly RT (1× RT), twice-weekly RT (2× RT), or twice-weekly balance and tone (BAT). Assessors were blinded to participant assignments.

Measurements: WML volume was measured using MRI at baseline and trial completion.

Results: At trial completion, the 2× RT group had significantly lower WML volume than the BAT group (P = .03). There was no significant difference between the BAT group and the 1× RT group at trial completion (P = .77). Among participants in the two RT groups, reduced WML progression over 12 months was significantly associated with maintenance of gait speed (correlation coefficient (r) = -0.31, P = .049) but not with executive functions (r = 0.30; P = .06).

Conclusion: Engaging in progressive RT may reduce WML progression.

Trial registration: NCT00426881.

Keywords: magnetic resonance imaging; resistance training; white matter lesions.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Disease Progression
  • Executive Function
  • Female
  • Gait
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Prospective Studies
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Resistance Training / statistics & numerical data
  • Single-Blind Method
  • White Matter / pathology*

Associated data