BACKGROUND: The prevalence of individuals with cognitive decline is increasing since the number of elderly adults is growing considerably. The literature provides promising results on the beneficial effect of exercise and vitamin supplementation on cognitive function both in cognitively healthy as well as in the demented elderly.
METHODS/DESIGN: The design is a two-by-two factorial randomised controlled trial. The study population consists of independently living elderly, between 70 and 80 years old, with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). In the RCT the effect of two interventions, a walking program and vitamin supplementation, is examined. The walking program (WP) is a group-based program aimed at improving cardiovascular endurance; frequency two lessons a week; lesson duration one hour; program duration one year. Non-walking groups receive a placebo activity program (PAP) (i.e. low intensive non-aerobic group exercises, like stretching) with the same frequency, lesson and program duration. Vitamin supplementation consists of a single daily vitamin supplement containing 50 mg B6, 5 mg folic acid and 0,4 mg B12 for one year. Subjects not receiving vitamin supplements are daily taking an identically looking placebo pill, also for a year. Participants are randomised to four groups 1) WP and vitamin supplements; 2) WP and placebo supplements; 3) PAP and vitamin supplements; 4) PAP and placebo supplements. Primary outcome measures are measures of cognitive function. Secondary outcomes include psychosocial wellbeing, physical activity, cardiovascular endurance and blood vitamin levels.
DISCUSSION: No large intervention study has been conducted yet on the effect of physical activity and vitamin supplementation in a population-based sample of adults with MCI. The objective of the present article is to describe the design of a randomised controlled trial examining the effect of a walking program and vitamin B supplementation on the rate of cognitive decline in older adults with MCI.