Not Clear That Physical Activity Programs Reduce Cognitive Decline Interview with:
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Michelle Brasure, MSPH, PhD, MLIS
Evidence-based Practice Center
School of Public Health
University of Minnesota What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We conducted a large systematic review to assess the evidence relating to interventions to prevent cognitive decline and dementia. We included experimental studies with follow up times of at least six months. This paper analyzes the physical activity interventions; other papers in this issue address other types of interventions. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: We did not find conclusive evidence that physical activity interventions slowed or prevented cognitive decline in the studies we examined, but the data did show a trend in the direction of benefit.

Most of the eligible studies enrolled an older sedentary population and most studies followed up with participants after only six months. We found that one intervention composed of physical activity, cognitive training, and dietary advice showed benefits in slowing or preventing cognitive decline over a period of two years.

Sedentary lifestyles have been identified as a risk factor for dementia and many other chronic conditions. From our review, it is not clear whether sedentary older adults starting a physical activity program will see benefits in terms of slowing cognitive decline within a relatively short period of time. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Trials assessing whether physical activity interventions can slow or prevent cognitive decline should enroll younger participants and follow participants for several years. Additionally, high-quality observational studies should seek to identify the types, frequency, intensity, and duration of physical activity associated with reduced risk of cognitive decline. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Michelle Brasure, Priyanka Desai, Heather Davila, Victoria A. Nelson, Collin Calvert, Eric Jutkowitz, et al. Physical Activity Interventions in Preventing Cognitive Decline and Alzheimer-Type Dementia: A Systematic Review. Ann Intern Med. [Epub ahead of print 19 December 2017] doi: 10.7326/M17-1528

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