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03.07.2019 | Systematic Review

The Impact of Different Types of Exercise Training on Peripheral Blood Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Concentrations in Older Adults: A Meta-Analysis

Sports Medicine
Nastasia Marinus, Dominique Hansen, Peter Feys, Raf Meesen, Annick Timmermans, Joke Spildooren
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s40279-019-01148-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Nastasia Marinus and Dominique Hansen are shared first authors.



As the prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases (such as dementia) continues to increase due to population aging, it is mandatory to understand the role of exercise for maintaining/improving brain health.


To analyse the impact of aerobic, strength and combined aerobic/strength exercise training on peripheral brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) concentrations in older adults (minimum age 60 years).


This meta-analysis adhered to PRISMA guidelines. Inclusion criteria were: (i) studies with subjects aged ≥ 60 years, (ii) completing a single exercise bout or an exercise programme, with (iii) measurements of blood BDNF in the periphery; (iv) with comparison between (a) an intervention and control group or (b) two intervention groups, or (c) pre- and post-measurements of an exercise intervention without control group. Studies with specific interest in known chronic co-morbidities or brain diseases affecting the peripheral and/or central nervous system, except for dementia, were excluded.


In general, peripheral blood BDNF concentrations increased significantly after a single aerobic/strength exercise bout (Z = 2.21, P = 0.03) as well as after an exercise programme (Z = 4.72, P < 0.001). However, when comparing the different types of exercise within these programmes, the increase in the peripheral BDNF concentrations was significant after strength training (Z = 2.94, P = 0.003) and combined aerobic/strength training (Z = 3.03, P = 0.002) but not after (low-to-moderate intense) aerobic exercise training (Z = 0.82, P = 0.41).


Based on current evidence, to increase the peripheral blood BDNF concentrations in older adults, strength training and combined aerobic/strength training is effective. More studies are needed to examine the impact of aerobic exercise training.

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