Study Shows Exercise Does Not Improve Cognition in Elderly
CHICAGO, ILL. – Aug. 25, 2015 - Kaycee M. Sink, M.D., M.A.S., of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center 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. The results are published in the Aug. 25 issue of JAMA.
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.”
Read the entire JAMA news release. 8/25/2015http://www.wakehealth.edu/News-Releases/2015/Study_Shows_Exercise_Did_Not_Improve_Cognition_in_Elderly.htm
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