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Effect of physical activity on cognition

Date:
August 25, 2015
Source:
The JAMA Network Journals
Summary:
Researchers evaluated whether a 24-month physical activity program would result in better cognitive function, lower risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia, or both, compared with a health education program.
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Kaycee M. Sink, M.D., M.A.S., of the Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues evaluated whether a 24-month physical activity program would result in better cognitive function, lower risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia, or both, compared with a health education program.

Epidemiological evidence suggests that physical activity is associated with lower rates of cognitive decline. Exercise is associated with improved cerebral blood flow and neuronal connectivity and maintenance or improvement in brain volume. However, evidence from randomized trials has been limited and mixed, according to background information in the article.

Participants in the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) study (n = 1,635; 70 to 89 years of age) were randomly assigned to a structured, moderate-intensity physical activity program (n = 818) that included walking, resistance training, and flexibility exercises or a health education program (n = 817) of educational workshops and upper-extremity stretching. Participants were sedentary adults who were at risk for mobility disability but able to walk about a quarter mile. Measures of cognitive function and incident MCI or dementia were determined at 24 months.

The researchers found that the moderate-intensity physical activity intervention did not result in better global or domain-specific cognition compared with the health education program. There was also no significant difference between groups in the incidence of MCI or dementia (13.2 percent in the physical activity group vs 12.1 percent in the health education group), although this outcome had limited statistical power.

"Cognitive function remained stable over 2 years for all participants. We cannot rule out that both interventions were successful at maintaining cognitive function," the authors write.

Participants in the physical activity group who were 80 years or older and those with poorer baseline physical performance had better changes in executive function composite scores compared with the health education group. "This finding is important because executive function is the most sensitive cognitive domain to exercise interventions, and preserving it is required for independence in instrumental activities of daily living. Future physical activity interventions, particularly in vulnerable older adult groups (e.g., ?80 years of age and those with especially diminished physical functioning levels), may be warranted."


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Materials provided by The JAMA Network Journals. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kaycee M. Sink, Mark A. Espeland, Cynthia M. Castro, Timothy Church, Ron Cohen, John A. Dodson, Jack Guralnik, Hugh C. Hendrie, Janine Jennings, Jeffery Katula, Oscar L. Lopez, Mary M. McDermott, Marco Pahor, Kieran F. Reid, Julia Rushing, Joe Verghese, Stephen Rapp, Jeff D. Williamson. Effect of a 24-Month Physical Activity Intervention vs Health Education on Cognitive Outcomes in Sedentary Older Adults. JAMA, 2015; 314 (8): 781 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2015.9617

Cite This Page:

The JAMA Network Journals. "Effect of physical activity on cognition." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 August 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150825115022.htm>.
The JAMA Network Journals. (2015, August 25). Effect of physical activity on cognition. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150825115022.htm
The JAMA Network Journals. "Effect of physical activity on cognition." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150825115022.htm (accessed May 26, 2017).

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