Background and objectives: Meditation and mind-body exercises are suggested to delay decline or enhance cognitive capabilities in older adults. However, their effectiveness remains uncertain. This study assessed the effectiveness of meditation and mind-body exercises to improve cognition in elderly people aged 60 years or above. Moderator variables were also explored.
Research design and methods: A databases search (MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, CNKI, and Wangfang) was conducted from the first available date to January 10, 2018. Inclusion criteria include (a) human older adults aged 60 years or above, (b) meditation, Tai Chi, Qigong, or yoga intervention, (c) intervention should be structured, (d) inclusion of a control group, (e) at least one outcome measure of cognition was measured at baseline and post-training, and (f) peer-reviewed journal articles in English or Chinese.
Results: Forty-one studies (N = 3,551) were included in the meta-analysis. In general, meditation and mind-body exercises improve cognition in the elderly people (SMD = 0.34, 95% CI: 0.19 to 0.48), but the cognition-enhancing effects depend on the type of exercise. In addition, cognitive performance is only improved when the length of intervention is longer than 12 weeks, exercise frequency is 3-7 times/week, or duration of an exercise session is 45-60 min/session.
Discussion and implications: This study suggests that meditation and mind-body exercises are effective to improve cognition of older adults aged 60 years or above, and exercise parameters should be considered for intervention planning.
Keywords: Alternative and complementary medicine/care/therapy; Cognition; Dementia; Exercise/physical activity.
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