Physical activity and executive functions in the elderly with mild cognitive impairment

Aging Ment Health. 2005 May;9(3):272-80. doi: 10.1080/13607860500089930.


The primary goal of the present study was to examine whether in the elderly with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), the effect of physical activity measured directly following treatment, was reflected in an improvement in cognitive functioning in general or in executive functions (EF) in particular. Secondly, this study aimed to compare the effectiveness of two types of intervention, with varying intensities: walking and hand/face exercises. Forty-three frail, advanced elderly subjects (mean age: 86) with MCI were randomly divided into three groups, namely, a walking group (n=15), a group performing hand and face exercises (n=13), and a control group (n=15). All subjects received individual treatment for 30 minutes a day, three times a week, for a period of six weeks. A neuropsychological test battery, administered directly after cessation of treatment, assessed cognitive functioning. The results show that although a (nearly) significant improvement in tasks appealing to EF was observed in both the walking group and the hand/face group compared to the control group, the results should be interpreted with caution. Firm conclusions about the effectiveness of mild physical activity on EF in the oldest old can only be drawn after studies with larger number of subjects.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cognition Disorders / complications
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology*
  • Cognition Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Walking