Effects of exergaming on executive function of older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis

PeerJ. 2022 Apr 11;10:e13194. doi: 10.7717/peerj.13194. eCollection 2022.


Background: Executive function (EF) involves a series of high-level processes, such as inhibition, switching, and updating. Aging-related cognitive decline has been shown to be strongly associated with EF worsening. The aims of this study were to perform a meta-analysis to evaluate the effects of exergaming, an emerging intervention, on EF performance in older adults and to conduct a moderator analysis of exergaming effects on EF.

Methods: Randomized controlled trials examining exergaming influences on EF in older adults were collated by searching the Web of Science, Elsevier Science, PubMed, and Google Scholar databases. Statistical data were quantified in Comprehensive Meta-analysis software. Overall EF and EF domains (inhibition, switching, and updating) were analyzed separately.

Results: A total of 15 studies were included. The meta-analysis results indicated that exergaming had a significant influence on overall EF in the older adult (standardized mean difference (SMD) = 0.349, 95% confidence interval (CI) [0.191-0.506], p < 0.001). The same effects were also found in EF domains of inhibition (SMD = 0.415, 95% CI [0.102-0.729], p = 0.009), switching (SMD = 0.243, 95% CI [0.071-0.415], p = 0.005), and updating (SMD = 0.366, 95% CI [0.140-0.592], p = 0.002). The effects of exergaming on overall EF were found to be moderated by the frequency of the intervention (Q(1) = 3.537, p = 0.06).

Conclusion: Exergaming was confirmed to improve overall EF, as well as in older adults, and the effect of exergaming on EF was shown to be moderated by intervention frequency.

Keywords: Executive function; Exergaming; Meta-analysis; Older adults.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognitive Dysfunction*
  • Executive Function / physiology
  • Exergaming
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Software
  • Video Games*

Grant support

This work was supported by the Yangzhou University Philosophy and Social Sciences Fine Achievement Training Fund. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.