Physical activity for cognitive health: what advice can we give to older adults with subjective cognitive decline and mild cognitive impairment?

Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2019 Mar;21(1):61-68. doi: 10.31887/DCNS.2019.21.1/nlautenschlager.


Subjective cognitive decline (SCD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are common conditions in older age and are associated with an increased risk of future cognitive decline and dementia. As there is currently no effective pharmacological treatment available for SCD and MCI, modifiable risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia have received increasing attention in the literature as a focus for clinical trials. Physical activity (PA) is one of the strongest protective lifestyle factors. This clinical review aims to highlight the accumulating evidence about the benefits of PA for SCD and MCI. Whilst there is agreement that at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic PA per week in combination with additional resistance training is necessary to support brain health in people with SCD and MCI, future research is required to help inform specific advice on type of exercise, intensity, "dose" and effective strategies to encourage behavior change.

Keywords: Alzheimer disease; dementia; dementia risk reduction; exercise; mild cognitive impairment; physical activity; prevention; subjective cognitive decline.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnosis
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / prevention & control*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / psychology*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Healthy Aging*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers