Dose-response relationship between exercise and cognitive function in older adults with and without cognitive impairment: A systematic review and meta-analysis

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Abstract

This systematic review and meta-analysis examined the dose-response relationship between exercise and cognitive function in older adults with and without cognitive impairments. We included single-modality randomized controlled aerobic, anaerobic, multicomponent or psychomotor exercise trials that quantified training frequency, session and program duration and specified intensity quantitatively or qualitatively. We defined total exercise duration in minutes as the product of program duration, session duration, and frequency. For each study, we grouped test-specific Hedges' d (n = 163) and Cohen's d (n = 23) effect sizes in the domains Global cognition, Executive function and Memory. We used multilevel mixed-effects models to investigate dose-related predictors of exercise effects. In healthy older adults (n = 23 studies), there was a small positive effect of exercise on executive function (d = 0.27) and memory (d = 0.24), but dose-parameters did not predict the magnitude of effect sizes. In older adults with cognitive impairments (n = 13 studies), exercise had a moderate positive effect on global cognition (d = 0.37). For older adults with cognitive impairments, we found evidence for exercise programs with a short session duration and high frequency to predict higher effect sizes (d = 0.43-0.50). In healthy older adults, dose-parameters did not predict the magnitude of exercise effects on cognition. For older adults with cognitive impairments, exercise programs with shorter session duration and higher frequency may generate the best cognitive results. Studies are needed in which different exercise doses are directly compared among randomized subjects or conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0210036
Number of pages24
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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