Diabetes, which has been linked to increased risk for dementia and many other health problems, is becoming increasingly common. Exercise has been found to sustain or improve cognitive function in older adults, but only a small percentage of older adults exercise at recommended levels.
This study examined effects of stationary bike exercise on the cognitive functioning of older adults, ages 60 to 88, with and without type 2 diabetes. It analyzed a small dataset from a larger randomized clinical trial called the Cybercycle Study, which compared cognitive and physiological effects of traditional stationary cycling versus cybercycling that provides a video screen displaying appealing bike paths, virtual tours, and racing challenges. The study of the small dataset found that diabetic participants who used stationary bikes with and without cybercycling screens significantly improved in executive cognitive functioning over time, while non-diabetic participants did not improve in this measure.
This research, conducted with support from the Health Games Research national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, suggests that stationary bike exercise may help diabetic patients improve executive cognitive function.