The Effects of Mind-Body Exercise on Cognitive Performance in Elderly: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Dec 9;15(12):2791. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15122791.


Background: As the situation of cognitive aging is getting worse, preventing or treating cognitive decline through effective strategies is highly important. This systematic review aims to investigate whether mind-body exercise is an effective approach for treating cognition decline. Methods: Searches for the potential studies were performed on the eight electronic databases (MEDLINE, Scopus, Web of Science, SPORTDiscus, CINAHL, PsycArtilces, CNKI, and Wanfang). Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) examining the effect of mind-body exercise on cognitive performance in older adults were included. Data were extracted and effect sizes were pooled with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) using random-effects models. The Physiotherapy Evidence Database Scale was employed to examine the study quality. Results: Nineteen RCTs including 2539 elders (67.3% female) with fair to good study quality were identified. Mind-body exercise, relative to control intervention, showed significant benefits on cognitive performance, global cognition (Hedges'g = 0.23), executive functions (Hedges'g = 0.25 to 0.65), learning and memory (Hedges'g = 0.37 to 0.49), and language (Hedges'g = 0.35). In addition, no significant adverse events were reported. Conclusion: Mind-body exercise may be a safe and effective intervention for enhancing cognitive function among people aged 60 years or older. Further research evidence is still needed to make a more conclusive statement.

Keywords: Qigong; Tai Chi; Yoga; cognition; older; research synthesis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / physiopathology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / rehabilitation*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / therapy*
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Female
  • Health Services for the Aged*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mind-Body Therapies*