Frequently Asked Questions

The EXERT Study is evaluating how exercise impacts memory and daily activities for people already experiencing the early memory problems associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Do you have mild memory problems? Have you been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment? Are you interested in participating in a clinical study to help determine whether a lifestyle change could help slow down memory loss?

What is the EXERT Study?

The EXERT study seeks to evaluate over an 18-month period whether moderate- aerobic exercise can improve memory and cognition and other brain health measures in people with very mild memory. The study also seeks to test the effect of types of exercise which may help to reduce the pace of memory loss, improve daily living skills and other key effects.

How does the EXERT Study work?

After undergoing a variety of tests during the screening phase, participants that qualify will enroll and be randomized to either a moderate-to-high aerobic exercise group or a stretching/balance/range of motion exercise group. People interested in the EXERT Study participants must be willing to be assigned to either group.

Participants will be assigned to an exercise trainer at a local YMCA where they will be supervised in either the aerobic program or the stretching/balance/motion program. Participants will work out at the YMCAs four times a week, two of which will be with the trainers, for 12 months. During the following six months participants will work out at the Ys independently, without a trainer, following their prescribed training tracks.

Who is eligible to participate in the EXERT Study?

Researchers are looking for people:

  • Between the ages of 65-89
  • Willing and able to undergo clinic assessments, an MRI scan, and various blood and urine tests.
  • Fluent in English.
  • Willing exercise at a participating YMCA four times per week for 18 months.
  • Planning to reside in the area for the 18 month period of time.
  • In overall good general health with no other disease or planned surgeries that could interfere with the study.
  • Not currently involved in an exercise program and who have not been exercising regularly for the last several years.
  • Have someone who can serve as a study partner (and with whom you talk to on at least a weekly basis) and be available to accompany the participant to clinic visits.
  • Willing to be assigned to either group and complete the assigned activities within the 18 month window.

What would be expected of me if I enroll in EXERT?

After completing a variety of tests during the screening phase, eligible adults will enroll in EXERT and be randomly assigned to either a stretching/balance/range of motion group or to an aerobic training group.

All participants will exercise at participating local YMCAs, under the supervision of a personal trainer. Participants will complete their assigned exercise program four times per week for 18 months. In the first 12 months of the study, two of the four weekly sessions will be supervised by the trainer. In the final six months, participants will continue to complete their assigned exercise program at the YMCA, but without supervision.

What are the risks of participating in EXERT?

Although regular physical activity is associated with many health benefits, moderate/high intensity aerobic exercise can lead to a greater risk for cardiovascular events, bone and tissue injury. There are also a few minor risks associated with some of the clinic procedures, but the staff will carefully review them with you, as well as the protections we have in place to ensure your safety.

Researchers are unable to enroll people with the following partial list of conditions:

  • Diabetes
  • A significant neurologic disorder or disease, other than memory problems
  • Inability to walk unassisted on a treadmill
  • History of alcohol or drug abuse
  • A generally or unstable medical condition

Where will this study take place?

The EXERT Study is taking place at 14 of the nation’s leading academic medical centers who are partnered with specific local branches of the Y-USA (YMCAs) participating in the EXERT Study.


To find out the locations of other EXERT research sites in the U.S., contact the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center (ADEAR), a service of the National Institute on Aging.

Call toll-free 1-800-438-4380 or email

How many people will take part in this study?

300 people between the ages of 60-89 (nationwide).

Can a person enroll in other clinical trials while you are in EXERT?

No. Participation is another clinical trial would require that you withdraw from the EXERT Study.

Can I continue to take FDA-approved medications?

In most cases, yes. Use of certain drugs will not be allowed, such as medications that can impact memory and thinking abilities.

How is my privacy affected by participating in this study?

Your privacy is of prime importance to us. All data that we collect will be anonymous; we will take all possible precautions to keep your identity confidential.