Cardiorespiratory fitness diminishes the effects of age on white matter hyperintensity volume

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8 Scopus citations


White matter hyperintensities (WMHs) are among the most commonly observed marker of cerebrovascular disease. Age is a key risk factor for WMH development. Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is associated with increased vessel compliance, but it remains unknown if high CRF affects WMH volume. This study explored the effects of CRF on WMH volume in community-dwelling older adults. We further tested the possibility of an interaction between CRF and age on WMH volume. Participants were 76 adults between the ages of 59 and 77 (mean age = 65.36 years, SD = 3.92) who underwent a maximal graded exercise test and structural brain imaging. Results indicated that age was a predictor of WMH volume (beta = .32, p = .015). However, an age-by-CRF interaction was observed such that higher CRF was associated with lower WMH volume in older participants (beta = -.25, p = .040). Our findings suggest that higher levels of aerobic fitness may protect cerebrovascular health in older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0236986
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8 August
StatePublished - Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Johnson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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