Hoffmann, C. M., Petrov, M. E. & Lee, R. E. | 2021| Aerobic physical activity to improve memory and executive function in sedentary adults without cognitive impairment: A systematic review and meta-analysis | Preventive Medicine Reports | https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2021.101496
The reviewers of this systematic review and meta-analysis set out to examine whether aerobic physical activity improves cognitive function, specifically memory and executive function, in sedentary adults (aged
50 years and over) without cognitive impairment. Overall they report that their hypothesis was supported and they observe a a significant improvement in at least one measure of cognitive function (either memory, executive
function, or both) in adults aged 50 and up who engaged with physical activity interventions.
The worldwide population of adults ages 50 and older continues to increase and is projected to reach over 2.3
billion by 2030. Aging is the biggest risk factor for cognitive impairment and dementia. Aerobic physical activity
may improve cognitive functioning, thus delaying aging-related cognitive decline.
The purpose of this review was to examine the effect of aerobic physical activity on memory and executive
function in sedentary adults with no known cognitive impairment.
PubMed, CINAHL, Psycinfo, and Cochrane Library databases were systematically searched for peer-reviewed
articles up to July 2019. Randomized controlled trials of sedentary adults, aged 50 and older, that compared an
aerobic physical activity intervention to either no treatment or alternative active comparator and reported
outcome measures of memory and/or executive function were included. A random effects meta-analysis was
performed to examine the separate effect sizes for memory and executive function.
Nine studies met inclusion criteria and contributed either memory and/or executive function effect sizes (n equal to
547). Results from the random effects meta-analysis suggested, by post-intervention, a large effect size for the
aerobic physical activity interventions on memory (g equal to 0.80, 95 per cent CI: 0.14–1.47; n equal to 7; p equal to 0.02) and a small effect on executive function (g equal to 0.37, 95 per cent CI: 0.04–0.69; n equal to 6; p equal to 0.03).
Aerobic physical activity may improve memory and executive function in sedentary adults without cognitive
impairment. Policymakers and providers should promote aerobic physical activity in this population, and further
research should investigate the most effective ways to promote aerobic physical activity in mid-life to older