Neuroimaging studies of factors related to exercise: Rationale and design of a 9month trial

Stephen D. Herrmann, Laura E. Martin, Florence J. Breslin, Jeffery J. Honas, Erik A. Willis, Rebecca J. Lepping, Cheryl A. Gibson, Christie A. Befort, Kate Lambourne, Jeffrey M. Burns, Bryan K. Smith, Debra K. Sullivan, Richard A. Washburn, Hung Wen Yeh, Joseph E. Donnelly, Cary R. Savage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The prevalence of obesity is high resulting from chronic imbalances between energy intake and expenditure. On the expenditure side, regular exercise is associated with health benefits, including enhanced brain function. The benefits of exercise are not immediate and require persistence to be realized. Brain regions associated with health-related decisions, such as whether or not to exercise or controlling the impulse to engage in immediately rewarding activities (e.g., sedentary behavior), include reward processing and cognitive control regions. A 9month aerobic exercise study will be conducted in 180 sedentary adults (n=90 healthy weight [BMI=18.5 to 26.0kg/m2]; n=90 obese [BMI=29.0 to 41.0kg/m2) to examine the brain processes underlying reward processing and impulse control that may affect adherence in a new exercise regimen. The primary aim is to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine reward processing and impulse control among participants that adhere (exercise >80% of sessions) and those that do not adhere to a nine-month exercise intervention with secondary analyses comparing sedentary obese and sedentary healthy weight participants. Our results will provide valuable information characterizing brain activation underlying reward processing and impulse control in sedentary obese and healthy weight individuals. In addition, our results may identify brain activation predictors of adherence and success in the exercise program along with measuring the effects of exercise and improved fitness on brain activation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-68
Number of pages11
JournalContemporary Clinical Trials
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Exercise adherence
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Obesity


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