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The acute effects of resistance exercise on cognitive function in healthy adults: a systematic review with multilevel meta-analysis

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Background: Recent research has revealed a beneficial impact of chronic resistance exercise (RE) on brain function. However, it is unclear as to whether RE is also effective in an acute setting. Objective: To investigate the immediate effects of a single RE session on cognitive performance in healthy adults. Methods: A multilevel meta-analysis with random effects meta-regession model was used to pool the standardized mean differences (SMD) between RE and no-exercise (NEX) as well as between RE and aerobic exercise (AE). In addition to global cognitive function, effects on reported sub-domains (inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility, working memory, attention) were examined. Results: Twelve trials with fair methodological quality (PEDro scale) were identified. Compared to NEX, RE had a positive effect on global cognition (SMD: 0.56, 95% CI: 0.22 to 0.90, p=0.004), but was not superior to AE (SMD: -0.10, 95% CI: 0.01 to -0.20, p=0.06). Regarding cognitive subdomains, RE, compared to NEX, improved inhibitory control (SMD: 0.73, 95% CI: 0.21 to 1.26, p=0.01) and cognitive flexibility (SMD: 0.36, 95% CI: 0.17 to 0.55, p=0.004). In contrast, working memory (SMD: 0.35, 95% CI: -0.05 to 0.75, p=0.07) and attention (SMD: 0.79, 95% CI: -0.42 to 2.00, p=0.16) remained unaffected. No significant differences in sub-domains were found between RE and AE (p>0.05). Conclusion: RE appears to be an appropriate method to immediately enhance cognitive function in healthy adults. Further studies clearly elucidating the impact of effect modifiers such as age, training intensity or training duration are warranted.
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Sports Medicine (2019) 49:905–916
Acute Eects ofResistance Exercise onCognitive Function inHealthy
Adults: ASystematic Review withMultilevel Meta‑Analysis
JanWilke1 · FlorianGiesche1· KristinaKlier1· LutzVogt1· EvaHerrmann2· WinfriedBanzer1
Published online: 6 March 2019
© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019
Background Recent research has revealed a beneficial impact of chronic resistance exercise (RE) on brain function. However,
it is unclear as to whether RE is also effective in an acute setting.
Objective To investigate the immediate effects of a single RE session on cognitive performance in healthy adults.
Methods A multilevel meta-analysis with random effects meta-regression model was used to pool the standardized mean
differences (SMD) between RE and no-exercise (NEX) as well as between RE and aerobic exercise (AE). In addition to
global cognitive function, effects on reported sub-domains (inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility, working memory, atten-
tion) were examined.
Results Twelve trials with fair methodological quality (PEDro scale) were identified. Compared to NEX, RE had a positive
effect on global cognition (SMD: 0.56, 95% CI 0.22–0.90, p = 0.004), but was not superior to AE (SMD: −0.10, 95% CI
0.01 to −0.20, p = 0.06). Regarding cognitive sub-domains, RE, compared to NEX, improved inhibitory control (SMD:
0.73, 95% CI 0.21–1.26, p = 0.01) and cognitive flexibility (SMD: 0.36, 95% CI 0.17–0.55, p= 0.004). In contrast, working
memory (SMD: 0.35, 95% CI −0.05 to 0.75, p= 0.07) and attention (SMD: 0.79, 95% CI −0.42 to 2.00, p = 0.16) remained
unaffected. No significant differences in sub-domains were found between RE and AE (p > 0.05).
Conclusion RE appears to be an appropriate method to immediately enhance cognitive function in healthy adults. Further
studies clearly elucidating the impact of effect modifiers such as age, training intensity, or training duration are warranted.
* Jan Wilke
1 Department ofSports Medicine, Goethe University
Frankfurt, Frankfurt/Main, Germany
2 Institute ofBiostatistics andMathematical Modeling, Goethe
University Frankfurt, Frankfurt/Main, Germany
Key Points
Previous literature shows that several weeks of resistance
training induces moderate improvements in cognitive
A single bout of resistance exercise leads to moderate
improvements in cognitive function when compared to a
no-exercise control.
The acute effects of resistance exercise are not superior
to those occurring after aerobic exercise.
The impact of effect modifiers such as age, training dura-
tion, or training intensity needs to be further elucidated.
1 Introduction
Engagement in physical activity represents a well-estab-
lished method to elicit health-beneficial effects in a vari-
ety of peripheral organs such as the skeletal muscles, the
heart, or the lungs [1]. Over recent decades, the poten-
tial impact of regular movement on brain morphology
and function has evolved as another focus of research.
Accumulating evidence suggests the occurrence of train-
ing-induced cerebral adaptations that may help to pre-
vent or delay cognitive decline and neurodegenerative
diseases; according to data from animal experiments,
chronic exercise promotes synaptic plasticity, angiogen-
esis, and neurogenesis [24]. Human studies have, fur-
thermore, demonstrated the expression of brain-derived
neurotrophic factor (BDNF), as well as increases in hip-
pocampal brain volume, in response to several weeks of
training [5]. It has been hypothesized that the described
exercise-induced changes in the brain, functionally, result
in enhanced cognitive performance. This seems plausible
as, for instance, angiogenesis allows enhanced perfusion
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... A growing body of research has demonstrated a beneficial effect of acute exercise on cognition, particularly for tasks or task components with larger executive function (EF) demands [1][2][3][4][5]. Broadly defined, EF refers to a family of cognitive processes that enable the volitional control of thoughts, emotions, attention, and behaviors to complete task-oriented goals [6,7]. ...
... They are also a key determinant of successful aging [9] and efficiency of daily living, an indispensable part of everyday life [10,11] Accordingly, sustaining and improving EF has become an important public health issue. Critically, previous studies have shown that EF is enhanced following a single bout (i.e., dose) of exercise (also called acute exercise) [1][2][3][4]. ...
... Over the last decade, this area of study has continued to capture our attention. Recent reviews [4,19] have supported the acute RE-EF link, providing an additional focus on the importance of moderating variables; particularly, exercise intensity and EF domain. However, these recent reviews differ in two key respects. ...
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Background Research has demonstrated that there is a beneficial effect of acute exercise on cognitive function; however, the moderators of the acute resistance exercise (RE) effect on executive function (EF) are underestimated. This systematic review aims to clarify the effects of acute RE on EF by examining the moderating effect of exercise intensity (light, moderate, and vigorous) and EF domains (inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility), as well as their interactions. Methods The search strategy was conducted in four databases (PubMed, Scopus, PsycARTICLES, and Cochrane Library) prior to January 29, 2022. Included studies had to: (1) investigate acute RE in adults with normal cognition and without diagnosed disease; (2) include a control group or control session for comparison; (3) include outcomes related to the core EF domains; and (4) be published in English. The methodological quality of the included studies was judged according to the PEDro scale guidelines. Results Nineteen studies were included which included a total of 692 participants. More than half of the outcomes (24/42, 57.14%) indicate that acute RE had a statistically significant positive effect on overall EF. In terms of RE intensity and EF domain, moderate intensity acute RE benefited EF more consistently than light and vigorous intensity acute RE. Acute RE-induced EF benefits were more often found for inhibitory control than for working memory and cognitive flexibility. When considering moderators simultaneously, measuring inhibitory control after light or moderate intensity RE and measuring working memory or cognitive flexibility after moderate intensity RE most often resulted in statistically significant positive outcomes. Conclusion Acute RE has a beneficial effect on EF, observed most consistently for inhibitory control following moderate intensity RE. Future studies should include all exercise intensities and EF domains as well as investigate other potential moderators to enable a better understanding of the benefits of acute RE on EF.
... Concerning the same idea but in the reverse direction, evidence seems to support that physical activity, structured exercise, and sports practice, positively influence general executive functioning as well as inhibitory control performance and development. In the first place, resistance (Wilke et al., 2019) and aerobic (Levin et al., 2021;Oberste et al., 2019) exercise seem to be appropriate methods to acutely enhance inhibitory control. Secondly, it has been observed that long-term exercise programs have also improved inhibition, although the results in this field are somewhat inconsistent. ...
... A large body of previous evidence in the field has shown that a single bout of physical activity acutely improves cognitive performance in general, as well as inhibitory control in particular (Chang et al., 2012;Levin et al., 2021;Oberste et al., 2019;Wilke et al., 2019). However, cognitive performance at rest weakly predicts cognitive performance while exercising (Faria et al., 2021), so the influence of different moderating variables on this effect has been suggested (e.g., intensity (Brown and Bray, 2018), duration , rest period after exercise (Netz et al., 2016), type of exercise (Takahashi and Grove, 2019), fitness level (Ludyga et al., 2016), expertise (Schapschröer et al., 2016), fatigue or exertion (McCartney et al., 2021), etc.). ...
Inhibitory control is an executive function that is closely and bidirectionally related to sports practice. The objective of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to study the effect of this relationship when response suppression is assessed within the Stop-Signal Paradigm. Twenty-four articles met the inclusion criteria and were selected for qualitative analysis, of which 11 studies were further analyzed through meta-analytic techniques. The standardized mean difference (SMD) was estimated for the stop-signal reaction time, and the influence of moderator variables was assessed. Athletes showed shorter stop-signal reaction time than non-athlete controls (SMD=0.44; 95% CI=0.14, 0.73), and this effect was mediated by age (SMD= -0.56; 95% CI= -1.11, -0.01). Athletes’ superior stop-signal reaction time may be a result of extensive practice in cognitively demanding competitive environments. Young athletes can benefit the most from sports practice. In addition, engaging individuals in more cognitively demanding activities may obtain better response suppression enhancements, although the evidence in the stop-signal task is limited. Finally, some stop-signal task methodological aspects should be considered in future research.
... Most of the studies conducted so far have generally focused on aerobic exercise and it is only recently that researchers started to pay attention to strength training, which is also called muscle-strengthening activity or resistance exercise. Available evidence suggests that strength training may bring similar but not superior cognitive benefits to aerobic exercise (Wilke et al., 2019;Broadhouse et al., 2020;Landrigan et al., 2020;Coelho-Junior et al., 2022) and when combined with aerobic exercise, they may lead to greater cognitive benefits (Colcombe & Kramer 2003;Northey et al., 2018). ...
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Physical activity is one of the modifiable factors of cognitive decline and dementia with the strongest evidence. Although many influential reviews have illustrated the neurobiological mechanisms of the cognitive benefits of physical activity, none of them have linked the neurobiological mechanisms to normal exercise physiology to help the readers gain a more advanced, comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon. In this review, we address this issue and provide a synthesis of the literature by focusing on five most studied neurobiological mechanisms. We show that the body's adaptations to enhance exercise performance also benefit the brain and contribute to improved cognition. Specifically, these adaptations include, 1), the release of growth factors that are essential for the development and growth of neurons and for neurogenesis and angiogenesis, 2), the production of lactate that provides energy to the brain and is involved in the synthesis of glutamate and the maintenance of long-term potentiation, 3), the release of anti-inflammatory cytokines that reduce neuroinflammation, 4), the increase in mitochondrial biogenesis and antioxidant enzyme activity that reduce oxidative stress, and 5), the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and 5-HT that regulate neurogenesis and modulate cognition. We also discussed several issues relevant for prescribing physical activity, including what intensity and mode of physical activity brings the most cognitive benefits, based on their influence on the above five neurobiological mechanisms. We hope this review helps readers gain a general understanding of the state-of-the-art knowledge on the neurobiological mechanisms of the cognitive benefits of physical activity and guide them in designing new studies to further advance the field.
... In the present study, participants in the action observation groups were instructed to "focus on the nature of movement in the video and try to find cues on how to perform faster when you practice the test" to eliminate the disadvantage of the action observation technique. Furthermore, the authors evaluated sustained attention and working memory, which are essential elements of cognitive functions [41], using the d2. Although the difference between the groups was not statistically significant, participants scored better in almost all the d2 variables. ...
Aim: To investigate the acute effects of action observation training on upper extremity functions, cognitive functions and response time in healthy, young adults. Materials & methods: A total of 60 participants were randomly divided into five groups: the self-action observation group, action observation group, action practice group, non-action observation group and control group. The Jebsen-Taylor hand function test (JTHFT), nine-hole peg test, serial reaction time task and d2 test of attention were applied to the participants before and after the interventions. Results: JTHFT performance with both non-dominant and dominant hands improved significantly compared with baseline in all groups (p < 0.001). JTHFT performance with non-dominant and dominant hands differed between the groups (p < 0.001). Conclusion: Action observation training seems to enhance the performance of upper extremity-related functions. Observing self-actions resulted in statistically significant positive changes in more variables compared with other methods. However, its clinical effectiveness over the other methods should be investigated in future long-term studies. Clinical Trial Registration: NCT04932057 (
... Se evidencia así que el ejercicio es un activador metabólico importante, de manera que estos procesos pueden ser un modo en el que el ejercicio influya sobre el sistema nervioso central y la función cognitiva. (32,33,34,35) Esta relación se ha estudiado mediante el análisis de la función del BDNF en varias moléculas de gestión de la energía en el hipocampo, como la proteína quinasa activada por adenosín monofosfato (AMPK), la proteína ubicuo creatina quinasa mitocondrial (uMtCK), la proteína de desacoplamiento mitocondrial 2 (UCP-2), la hormona grelina y el IGF-1. (36,37,38,39) La AMPK se ha identificado como un indicador de combustible que detecta niveles bajos de energía, la uMtCK participa en el mantenimiento de la energía y la transducción, mientras que la UCP-2 permite la fuga de protones a través de las membranas mitocondriales y el transporte electrónico mitocondrial en el desacoplamiento de la síntesis de adenosín trifosfato (ATP). ...
... The choice of the tested moderators was based on three criteria [21]. First, they had to be clearly reported in at least five studies. ...
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Background Many countries have restricted public life in order to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV2). As a side effect of related measures, physical activity (PA) levels may have decreased. Objective We aimed (1) to quantify changes in PA and (2) to identify variables potentially predicting PA reductions. Methods A systematic review with random-effects multilevel meta-analysis was performed, pooling the standardized mean differences in PA measures before and during public life restrictions. Results A total of 173 trials with moderate methodological quality (modified Downs and Black checklist) were identified. Compared to pre-pandemic, total PA (SMD − 0.65, 95% CI − 1.10 to − 0.21) and walking (SMD − 0.52, 95% CI − 0.29 to − 0.76) decreased while sedentary behavior increased (SMD 0.91, 95% CI: 0.17 to 1.65). Reductions in PA affected all intensities (light: SMD − 0.35, 95% CI − 0.09 to − 0.61, p = .013; moderate: SMD − 0.33, 95% CI − 0.02 to − 0.6; vigorous: SMD − 0.33, − 0.08 to − 0.58, 95% CI − 0.08 to − 0.58) to a similar degree. Moderator analyses revealed no influence of variables such as sex, age, body mass index, or health status. However, the only continent without a PA reduction was Australia and cross-sectional trials yielded higher effect sizes (p < .05). Conclusion Public life restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in moderate reductions in PA levels and large increases in sedentary behavior. Health professionals and policy makers should therefore join forces to develop strategies counteracting the adverse effects of inactivity.
Although the acute effect of exercise on behavioral cognitive performance is well-documented in the exercise psychology field, a comprehensive evaluation on neuroelectric brain activity that determines healthy cognitive functioning following acute exercise is lacking. This systematic review included 39 studies examining acute exercise effects on P3 of event-related potential through its amplitude and latency, which reflect the amounts of attentional resources allocated to and the processing speed for categorizing a stimulus. Exercise has small effects on increasing amplitude and decreasing latency. The amplitude effect was moderated by age and the type, intensity, and duration of exercise, with a smaller effect being observed for individuals aged ≤18 and 19–35 than >60 years, for high-intensity than moderate-intensity exercise, for high-intensity interval training exercise than aerobic, resistance, and combined exercise, as well as for exercise lasting ≤10 and 11–20 than exercise lasting 21–30 min. The latency effect was moderated by exercise duration, with 11–20 min exercise showing a smaller effect than exercise lasting ≤10 min. These results demonstrated that acute exercise enhances allocation of attentional resources and processing speed needed to implement cognitive processes underlying goal-directed behavior. Further, these effects may be manipulated through targeting specific age groups and prescribing specific exercise parameters.
Background Research in modifiable behaviors, like exercise, on risk for dementia is increasing. Although many studies focus on older adults, brain pathology for Alzheimer’s Disease can begin in middle age, suggesting an ideal target for intervention. Methods We conducted a systematic review from exercise intervention studies on cognitive function among healthy, middle-aged participants (45-65). We searched multiple databases (PubMed, PsycINFO, MEDLINE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Google Scholar) for studies using standard, validated, neuropsychological measures following either single- or multi-session interventions in cognitively-unimpaired, middle-aged adults. Results We identified 13 eligible studies. There was notable heterogeneity across studies, with varying design, measures, interventions, and results. Results from single-session studies showed improvement in response inhibition, while results for cognitive flexibility were mixed. No significant changes were found on measures of attention, working memory, or processing speed. Results from multi-session studies were more varied. Verbal memory was found to improve while performance on tests of attention and working memory, processing speed, and executive function were mixed. Conclusion Importantly, for both single-session and multi-session studies, there was no standard set of neuropsychological tests administered, making it more difficult to synthesize the findings into a single narrative. We end with a discussion on future directions and implementation.
Background: This study compared the acute effects of aerobic (AE) and resistance (RE) exercise on reaction time (RT) and working memory (WM) in individuals with intellectual disability. Methods: RT tests and Corsi test for WM were performed before and after three intervention sessions: AE, RE, or control session consisting on watching video. Results: The RT values decreased significantly (p < .001) after both of AE and RE with higher extend after the RE but did not vary following the control session. Corsi scores increased significantly (p < .001) after AE but not after RE or control session. Conclusions: These findings suggest that the effects of acute exercise on cognitive function in individuals with intellectual disability depend on the exercise mode as well as the nature of the cognitive task. The RE seems to be more recommended for RT enhancement whereas only the aerobic one could improve WM in these individuals.
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Exercise is known to have numerous neuroprotective and cognitive benefits, especially pertaining to memory and learning related processes. One potential link connecting them is exercise-mediated hippocampal neurogenesis, in which new neurons are generated and incorporated into hippocampal circuits. The present review synthesizes the extant literature detailing the relationship between exercise and hippocampal neurogenesis, and identifies a key molecule mediating this process, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). As a member of the neurotrophin family, BDNF regulates many of the processes within neurogenesis, such as differentiation and survival. Although much more is known about the direct role that exercise and BDNF have on hippocampal neurogenesis in rodents, their corresponding cognitive benefits in humans will also be discussed. Specifically, what is known about exercise-mediated hippocampal neurogenesis will be presented as it relates to BDNF to highlight the critical role that it plays. Due to the inaccessibility of the human brain, much less is known about the role BDNF plays in human hippocampal neurogenesis. Limitations and future areas of research with regards to human neurogenesis will thus be discussed, including indirect measures of neurogenesis and single nucleotide polymorphisms within the BDNF gene.
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The positive effect of acute resistance exercise on executive function, such as inhibitory control (IC), is poorly understood. Several previous studies have demonstrated this effect using whole-body resistance exercise. However, it remains unclear whether localized resistance exercise performed using only limited muscle groups could also acutely improve IC. Thus, the present study examined the effect of an acute bout of localized resistance exercise on IC. Twelve healthy men performed a color-word Stroop task (CWST) before and immediately after the experimental conditions, which consisted of 2 resistance exercises and a resting control (CON). Bilateral knee extension was used to create 2 resistance exercise conditions: light-intensity resistance exercise (LRE) and high-intensity resistance exercise (HRE) conditions, which were 40% and 80% of one-repetition maximum, respectively. The resistance exercise session was programmed for 6 sets with 10 repetitions per set. The CWST-measured IC was significantly improved immediately after both LRE and HRE, but it did not improve immediately after CON. However, the improved IC was significantly greater in HRE than in LRE. The present findings showed that IC could be rapidly improved by an acute bout of localized resistance exercise, especially with high-intensity. Therefore, we suggest that in addition to whole-body resistance exercise, localized resistance exercise performed using limited muscle groups may be sufficient for improving IC.
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Purpose: Moderate-intensity exercise is known to be the best effective intensity to enhance cognitive function, including memory and learning. However, the effects of high-intensity exercise in comparison with moderate- intensity exercise on cognitive function remain controversial. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of high-intensity resistance exercise on cognitive function. Methods: Thirty-six healthy female college students volunteered to participate in this study. The participants were divided into four groups: (i) control group (CON); (ii) high-intensity resistance exercise group (HIR); (iii) high-intensity aerobic exercise group (HIA); and (iv) combined moderate-intensity exercise group (MIC). Immediately prior to and after exercise, the solved number (SN) and reaction times (RT) in the Stroop test (neutral task, NT and incongruent task, IT), as well as the tissue oxygen index (TOI) in the left and right prefrontal cortex (PFC) were measured in all groups. Results: In the NT, both HIR and MIC groups showed significant improvements in SN and RT compared with the CON group. Meanwhile, performance in the HIA group was significantly attenuated compared with that in the MIC group. In the IT, only the MIC group showed a significant increase in SN and RT compared with the CON group. Furthermore, the TOI in the PFC (left PFC in the NT, and bilaterally in the IT) was significantly lower in the HIR group compared with that in the CON group. Conclusion: The results of this study show worse cognitive performance and decreased PFC oxygenation in high-intensity exercise compared with moderate-intensity exercise and controls. These results suggest that high-intensity exercise may not improve cognition as effectively as moderate-intensity exercise.
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Evidence from recent studies showed that acute aerobic exercise results in improvements in different cognitive functions. The goal of this study was to assess the influence of acute bouts of aerobic versus resistance exercise on attention and executive function in adults. Thirty-nine physically active adults (age = 52±8 yr) served as participants. Each participant visited the laboratory four times: on the first visit participants performed a cognitive test (NeuroTrax) followed by an aerobic fitness assessment, as well as maximal strength test composed of six exercises. During visits 2–4, participants completed the cognitive test before and after the experimental condition, which consisted of either 25 min of aerobic exercise or resistance exercise, or watching a recorded interview show in a seated position (control condition). Findings indicated significantly higher changes in scores of attention after acute aerobic exercise (mean change 3.46, 95% CI -0.32, 7.27) than following the control condition (mean change -0.64, 95% CI -2.23, 0.96). The changes following resistance exercise (mean change -0.67, 95% CI -4.47, 3.13) were not significantly different from the changes following the control condition. Executive function scores showed a marginally significant improvement following acute aerobic (mean change 4.06, 95% CI 1.68, 6.44) and resistance exercise (mean change 3.69, 95% CI 0.78, 6.60), but not after control (mean change 0.91, 95% CI -1.21, 3.02). We suggest that adults should consider augmenting both modalities into their training routines, which may improve their cognition in addition to providing other physical benefits.
Objective: Emerging research demonstrates that aerobic-based physical activity is favourably associated with episodic memory function. Despite resistance exercises being associated with a multitude of health outcomes, independent of aerobic physical activity, less research has examined the effects of resistance exercise on episodic memory function. The purpose of this study was to conduct a systematic review to examine the extent to which resistance exercise may be associated with episodic memory function. Methods: Computerized searches were performed in PubMed, PsychInfo and Sports Discuss. Studies were included if they employed an experimental, cross-sectional or prospective study design, and included acute or chronic resistance exercise as the independent variable, with episodic memory function as the outcome variable. Results: Eight experimental (one acute and seven chronic training studies) studies met the study inclusionary criteria. Seven of these studies were published in the last 5 years, highlighting the infancy of this line of research. Only three of the eight evaluated studies provided evidence of a positive effect of resistance exercise on memory function; within each of these three studies, there was also some indication of null (or unfavourable) effects. Conclusion: The findings of this systematic review do not provide compelling evidence for a beneficial effect of acute or chronic resistance exercise on episodic memory function. Additional research in this under-investigated field is warranted.
Objectives: The aim of this meta-analysis was to provide a systematic review of intervention studies that investigated the effects of physical activity on multiple domains of executive functions, attention and academic performance in preadolescent children (6-12 years of age). In addition, a systematic quantification of the effects of physical activity on these domains is provided. Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Methods: Searches of electronic databases and examining relevant reviews between 2000 and April 2017 resulted in 31 intervention studies meeting the inclusion criteria. Four subdomains of executive functions (inhibition, working memory, cognitive flexibility and planning), three subdomains of attention (selective, divided and sustained) and three subdomains of academic performance (mathematics, spelling and reading) were distinguished. Effects for different study designs (acute physical activity or longitudinal physical activity programs), type of physical activity (aerobic or cognitively engaging) and duration of intervention were examined separately. Results: Acute physical activity has a positive effect on attention (g = 0.43; 95% CI = 0.09, 0.77; 6 studies), while longitudinal physical activity programs has a positive effect on executive functions (g = 0.24; 95% CI = 0.09, 0.39; 12 studies), attention (g = 0.90; 95% CI = 0.56, 1.24; 1 study) and academic performance (g = 0.26; 95% CI = 0.02, 0.49; 3 studies). The effects did depend on the subdomain. Conclusions: Positive effects were found for physical activity on executive functions, attention and academic performance in preadolescent children. Largest effects are expected for interventions that aim for continuous regular physical activity over several weeks.
Cognitive impairment has a harmful effect on quality of life, is associated with functional limitations and disability in older adults. Physical activity (PA) has shown to have beneficial effects on cognition but the results and conclusions of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are less consistent. Update of knowledge was necessary to examine the effects on cognitive function of new training modalities developed in recent years, such as multicomponent exercise training. Therefore, the purpose of this review was to examine the role of multicomponent training versus aerobic or resistance training alone on cognition in healthy older adults (>65 years) without known cognitive impairment. The mean differences (MD) of the parameters from pre-intervention to post-intervention between groups were pooled using a random-effects model. Twenty-one RCTs published between 2002 and 2016 were included. Multicomponent exercise training may have the most positive effects on cognitive function in older adults. The small number of included studies and the large variability in study populations, study design, exercise protocols, adherence rates and outcome measures complicate the interpretation of the results and contribute to discrepancies within the exercise research literature.
Background Physical exercise is seen as a promising intervention to prevent or delay cognitive decline in individuals aged 50 years and older, yet the evidence from reviews is not conclusive. Objectives To determine if physical exercise is effective in improving cognitive function in this population. Design Systematic review with multilevel meta-analysis. Data sources Electronic databases Medline (PubMed), EMBASE (Scopus), PsychINFO and CENTRAL (Cochrane) from inception to November 2016. Eligibility criteria Randomised controlled trials of physical exercise interventions in community-dwelling adults older than 50 years, with an outcome measure of cognitive function. Results The search returned 12 820 records, of which 39 studies were included in the systematic review. Analysis of 333 dependent effect sizes from 36 studies showed that physical exercise improved cognitive function (0.29; 95% CI 0.17 to 0.41; p<0.01). Interventions of aerobic exercise, resistance training, multicomponent training and tai chi, all had significant point estimates. When exercise prescription was examined, a duration of 45–60 min per session and at least moderate intensity, were associated with benefits to cognition. The results of the meta-analysis were consistent and independent of the cognitive domain tested or the cognitive status of the participants. Conclusions Physical exercise improved cognitive function in the over 50s, regardless of the cognitive status of participants. To improve cognitive function, this meta-analysis provides clinicians with evidence to recommend that patients obtain both aerobic and resistance exercise of at least moderate intensity on as many days of the week as feasible, in line with current exercise guidelines.