Does aerobic exercise, resistance training, and/or Tai Chi improve cognitive performance in adults over 50?
Results are inconclusive; individual studies show significant impact of exercise on cognitive performance, but when analyzed collectively, there is a lack of consistency in results. Resistance training and Tai Chi showed some measurable effects.
- 25 of 725 studies qualified for analysis
- All selected studies were randomized controlled trials (strong evidence)
- Cochrane standards used to determine weakness (bias) in study design
- At least 10 participants per study
- Measures: large categories: memory and executive function, with subcategories for each
- Exercise types were compared to stretching/toning, no exercise, and no intervention control groups
- Resistance training, when compared to stretching and toning, improved measures of reasoning (executive function)
- Tai Chi, when compared to no exercise, improved measures of attention and processing speed (executive function)
- There were no significant differences between the aerobic exercise groups and the control groups
- Studies do not consider how fit the patients were at the start
- Results are usually more consistent in older adults, i.e. 50-64 may be too young to show a difference
- Studies were brief in duration, and long-term studies would be more helpful