Does physical activity prevent cognitive decline and dementia?: A systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies

Blondell, Sarah J., Hammersley-Mather, Rachel and Veerman, J. Lennert (2014) Does physical activity prevent cognitive decline and dementia?: A systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. BMC Public Health, 14 1: 510.1-510.12. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-510


Author Blondell, Sarah J.
Hammersley-Mather, Rachel
Veerman, J. Lennert
Title Does physical activity prevent cognitive decline and dementia?: A systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies
Journal name BMC Public Health   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1471-2458
Publication date 2014-05-27
Year available 2014
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1186/1471-2458-14-510
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 14
Issue 1
Start page 510.1
End page 510.12
Total pages 12
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher BioMed Central
Language eng
Subject 2739 Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
2700 Medicine
Abstract Background: By 2050, it has been estimated that approximately one-fifth of the population will be made up of older adults (aged >= 60 years). Old age often comes with cognitive decline and dementia. Physical activity may prevent cognitive decline and dementia.
Formatted abstract
Background: By 2050, it has been estimated that approximately one-fifth of the population will be made up of older adults (aged ≥60 years). Old age often comes with cognitive decline and dementia. Physical activity may prevent cognitive decline and dementia.

Methods: We reviewed and synthesised prospective studies into physical activity and cognitive decline, and physical activity and dementia, published until January 2014. Forty-seven cohorts, derived from two previous systematic reviews and an updated database search, were used in the meta-analyses. Included participants were aged ≥40 years, in good health and/or randomly selected from the community. Studies were assessed for methodological quality.

Results: Twenty-one cohorts on physical activity and cognitive decline and twenty-six cohorts on physical activity and dementia were included. Meta-analysis, using the quality-effects model, suggests that participants with higher levels of physical activity, when compared to those with lower levels, are at reduced risk of cognitive decline, RR 0.65, 95% CI 0.55-0.76, and dementia, RR 0.86, 95% CI 0.76-0.97. Sensitivity analyses revealed a more conservative estimate of the impact of physical activity on cognitive decline and dementia for high quality studies, studies reporting effect sizes as ORs, greater number of adjustments (≥10), and longer follow-up time (≥10 years). When one heavily weighted study was excluded, physical activity was associated with an 18% reduction in the risk of dementia (RR 0.82; 0.73-0.91).

Conclusions: Longitudinal observational studies show an association between higher levels of physical activity and a reduced risk of cognitive decline and dementia. A case can be made for a causal interpretation. Future research should use objective measures of physical activity, adjust for the full range of confounders and have adequate follow-up length. Ideally, randomised controlled trials will be conducted. Regardless of any effect on cognition, physical activity should be encouraged, as it has been shown to be beneficial on numerous levels.
Keyword Alzheimer's disease
Cognition
Cognitive decline
Cognitive impairment
Dementia
Exercise
Physical activity
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Public Health Publications
 
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