Physical activity improves the visual-spatial working memory of individuals with mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease: a systematic review and network meta-analysis

Front Public Health. 2024 Mar 28:12:1365589. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2024.1365589. eCollection 2024.

Abstract

Objective: Our network meta-analysis aimed to ascertain the effect of physical activity on the visual-spatial working memory of individuals with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease as well as to propose tailored exercise interventions for each group.

Methods: Employing a frequentist approach, we performed a network meta-analysis to compare the effectiveness of different exercise interventions in improving the visual-spatial working memory of individuals with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. Subsequently, we explored the moderating variables influencing the effectiveness of the exercise interventions through a subgroup analysis.

Results: We included 34 articles involving 3,074 participants in the meta-analysis, comprised of 1,537 participants from studies on mild cognitive impairment and 1,537 participants from studies on Alzheimer's disease. The articles included exhibited an average quality score of 6.6 (score studies) and 6.75 (reaction time [RT] studies), all passing the inconsistency test (p > 0.05). In the mild cognitive impairment literature, mind-body exercise emerged as the most effective exercise intervention (SMD = 0.61, 95% CI: 0.07-1.14). In Alzheimer's disease research, aerobic exercise was identified as the optimal exercise intervention (SMD = 0.39, 95% CI: 0.06-0.71).

Conclusion: The results of the subgroup analysis suggest that the most effective approach to enhancing the visual-spatial working memory of individuals with mild cognitive impairment entails exercising at a frequency of three or more times per week for over 60 min each time and at a moderate intensity for more than 3 months. Suitable exercise options include mind-body exercise, multicomponent exercise, resistance exercise, and aerobic exercise. For individuals with Alzheimer's disease, we recommend moderately intense exercise twice per week for over 90 min per session and for a duration of 3 months or longer, with exercise options encompassing aerobic exercise and resistance exercise.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; mild cognitive impairment; network meta-analysis; physical exercise; visual–spatial working memory.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / therapy
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / psychology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / therapy
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Network Meta-Analysis

Grants and funding

The author(s) declare financial support was received for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. This study was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Project Title: SWU2309501 and SWU2309720), the Graduate Student Research and Innovation Program of Southwest University (Project Title: SWU23040), and the National Social Science Fund Western Project (Project Title: 23XSH005).