Over 50? Exercise Linked To Improved Cognitive Function

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Joseph Michael Northey
UC Research Institute for Sport and Exercise (UCRISE),
Discipline of Sport and Exercise Science, Faculty of Health
University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Physical exercise has an important role to play in maintaining cognitive function across the lifecycle. However, the benefits of implementing a physical exercise intervention were not clear. To address these issues which prevented evidence-based prescription of exercise for cognitive function, a systematic review of all the available literature up to November of 2016 in adults older than 50 was conducted.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Thirty-nine studies which measured changes in cognitive function following a supervised physical exercise intervention were included in this systematic review and multilevel meta-analysis. The key finding of our analysis was that physical exercise was of significant benefit to cognitive function in over 50’s. A strength of the current study was the moderator analysis which examined how the prescription of exercise may have influenced the effects observed. When the type of exercise was examined, we found that aerobic, resistance training, multicomponent (which includes an intervention of both aerobic and resistance exercise), and tai chi, all had similar levels of improvement to cognitive function.

It was shown that exercise of at least moderate intensity and between 45 to 60 minutes in length offers a benefit to cognitive function. There was also a trend toward greater benefits to cognitive function as the frequency of exercise increased.

The findings of this study provide clinicians with positive evidence to recommend their patients to engage in both aerobic and resistance exercise of at least moderate intensity on as many days of the week as feasible, in line with current global exercise guidelines.

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