Chronic endurance exercise training prevents aging-related cognitive decline in healthy older adults: a randomized controlled trial

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2010 Oct;25(10):1055-64. doi: 10.1002/gps.2462.


Objective: To evaluate the effects of endurance exercise training (EET) on the cognitive status of healthy community-dwelling older adults.

Methods: A randomized controlled trial was conducted involving community-dwelling older adults from the town of Pianoro (northern Italy). We randomized 120 healthy subjects aged 65-74 years, both genders, to treatment (N = 60) and control (N = 60) groups. The treatment consisted of 12 months of supervised EET in a community gym, 3 h a week. All participants were assessed both at baseline and after 12 months on an intention-to-treat analysis. Cognitive status was assessed by one single test (Mini Mental State Examination, MMSE). Anthropometric indexes, routine laboratory measurements and C-reactive protein (CRP) were also assessed.

Results: The control group showed a significant decrease in MMSE score (mean difference -1.21, 95% CI -1.83/-0.60, p = 0.0002), which differed significantly (p = 0.02) from the treatment group scores (-0.21, 95% CI -0.79/0.37, p = 0.47). The odds ratio for the treated older adults to have a stable cognitive status after 1 year, as compared to the control group, was 2.74 (95% CI 1.16/6.48) after adjustment for age, gender, educational level and several other possible confounders. Blood pressure, body mass index, waist circumference and serum cholesterol did not differ significantly between the two groups, while CRP decreased only in the treatment group.

Conclusions: A 12-month EET intervention may reduce the progression of age-related cognitive decline in healthy older adults.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology
  • Anthropometry
  • Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Endurance*


  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Cholesterol