“Should we be exercising for brain health?” Specific focus on Huntington’s Disease

MONICA BUSSE-MORRIS - PROFESSOR OF HEALTHCARE SCIENCES

“Should we be exercising for brain health?” Specific focus on Huntington’s Disease

Aerobic and multi-modal exercise programmes (incorporating muscle strengthening and aerobic components) are well known for their effect on cardiorespiratory fitness, muscle strength, cognition and depression in the general population. There is now growing interest in the use of exercise as a therapeutic approach in the management of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s (HD) and Alzheimer’s Diseases, with clear suggestions that these interventions can result in improvements in both motor and cognitive deficits.

Despite many promising advances, widespread uptake of exercise interventions in neurodegeneration is however limited and there are clear knowledge gaps that prevent the intelligent application of exercise as a therapeutic. It is clear that mechanistic understanding of the biology of exercise is a crucial step towards developing and optimising novel and existing exercise protocols.

With a specific focus on HD as a powerful model disease, this presentation will review the current state of knowledge from both animal and human studies.  It will highlight evidence in support of the role of exercise in HD and will pose unanswered questions in the quest to understanding how exercise can be influential in optimising brain health in neurodegeneration. Practical and clinical implications will be discussed.