Physical activity, body mass index, and brain atrophy in Alzheimer's disease

Christina P. Boyle, Cyrus A. Raji, Kirk I. Erickson, Oscar L. Lopez, James T. Becker, H. Michael Gach, W. T. Longstreth, Leonid Teverovskiy, Lewis H. Kuller, Owen T. Carmichael, Paul M. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to use a novel imaging biomarker to assess associations between physical activity (PA), body mass index (BMI), and brain structure in normal aging, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer's dementia. We studied 963 participants (mean age: 74.1 ± 4.4 years) from the multisite Cardiovascular Health Study including healthy controls (n= 724), Alzheimer's dementia patients (n=104), and people with mild cognitive impairment (n= 135). Volumetric brain images were processed using tensor-based morphometry to analyze regional brain volumes. We regressed the local brain tissue volume on reported PA and computed BMI, and performed conjunction analyses using both variables. Covariates included age, sex, and study site. PA was independently associated with greater whole brain and regional brain volumes and reduced ventricular dilation. People with higher BMI had lower whole brain and regional brain volumes. A PA-BMI conjunction analysis showed brain preservation with PA and volume loss with increased BMI in overlapping brain regions. In one of the largest voxel-based cross-sectional studies to date, PA and lower BMI may be beneficial to the brain across the spectrum of aging and neurodegeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S194-S202
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Alzheimer's
  • Body mass index
  • Physical activity
  • Tensor-based morphometry


Dive into the research topics of 'Physical activity, body mass index, and brain atrophy in Alzheimer's disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this