Effects of combined cognitive and exercise interventions on cognition in older adults with and without cognitive impairment: a systematic review

Ageing Res Rev. 2014 May;15:61-75. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2014.02.008. Epub 2014 Mar 12.


Global concern on the potential impact of dementia is mounting. There are emerging calls for studies in older populations to investigate the potential benefits of combining cognitive and exercise interventions for cognitive functions. The purpose of this systematic review is to examine the efficacy of combined cognitive and exercise training in older adults with or without cognitive impairment and evaluate the methodological quality of the intervention studies. A systematic search of Cinahl, Medline, PsycINFO, ProQuest, EMBASE databases and the Cochrane Library was conducted. Manual searches of the reference list from the included papers and additional internet searches were also done. Eight studies were identified in this review, five of which included a cognitively impaired population and three studies included a cognitively healthy population. The results showed that combined cognitive and exercise training can be effective for improving the cognitive functions and functional status of older adults with and without cognitive impairment. However, limited evidence can be found in populations with cognitive impairment when the evaluation included an active control group comparison. Further well-designed studies are still needed to explore the potential benefits of this new intervention paradigm.

Keywords: Cognitive impairment; Combined intervention; Dual-task exercise; Healthy older adults; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Cognition Disorders / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Humans