Cerebral blood flow (CBF) is critical for brain metabolism and function. Age-related changes in CBF are associated with increased risk of neurocognitive disorders and vascular events such as stroke. Identifying correlates and positive modifiers of age-related changes in CBF before the emergence of incipient clinical decline may inform public health advice and clinical practice. Former research has been inconclusive regarding the association between regular physical activity and CBF, and there is a lack of studies on the association between level of everyday activities and CBF, in older adults. To investigate these relationships, 118 healthy community-dwelling adults (65-89 years) underwent pseudo-continuous arterial spin labeling (ASL) MRI, neurocognitive, physical, and activity assessments at baseline. Eighty-six participants completed a follow-up ASL MRI, on average 506 (SD = 113) days after the baseline scan. Cross-sectional analysis revealed credible evidence for positive associations between time spent on low intensity physical activity and CBF in multiple cortical and subcortical regions, time spent on moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity and accumbens CBF, participation in social activity and CBF in multiple cortical regions, and between reading and thalamic CBF, indicating higher regional CBF in more active adults. Longitudinal analysis revealed anecdotal evidence for an interaction between time and baseline level of gardening on occipital and parietal CBF, and baseline reading on pallidum CBF, indicating more change in CBF in adults with lower level of activity. The findings support that malleable lifestyle factors contribute to healthy brain aging, with relevance for public health guidelines.
Keywords: ASL; CBF; MRI; accelerometer; everyday activities; neuroimaging; physical activity.
© 2023 The Authors. Human Brain Mapping published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.