The effect of exercise training on brain structure and function in older adults: A systematic review based on evidence from randomized control trials

Feng Tzu Chen, Rachel J. Hopman, Chung Ju Huang, Chien Heng Chu, Charles H. Hillman, Tsung Min Hung, Yu Kai Chang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Accumulating evidence suggests that exercise training is associated with improvements in brain health in older adults, yet the extant literature is insufficient in detailing why exercise training facilitates brain structure and function. Specifically, few studies have employed the FITT-VP principle (i.e., Frequency, Intensity, Time, Type, Volume, and Progression) to characterize the exercise exposure, thus research is yet to specify which characteristics of exercise training benefit brain outcomes. To determine whether exercise training is consequential to cognitive and brain outcomes, we conducted a systematic review investigating the effects of exercise training on brain structure and function in older adults. PubMed and Scopus were searched from inception to February 2020, and study quality was assessed using the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool. A total of 24 randomized controlled trials were included. This systematic review indicates that older adults involved in exercise training may derive general benefits to brain health, as reflected by intervention-induced changes in brain structure and function. However, such benefits are dependent upon the dose of the exercise intervention. Importantly, current evidence remains limited for applied exercise prescriptions (e.g., volume, progression) and future research is needed to clarify the effects of exercise training on cognitive and brain outcomes in older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number914
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Volume9
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Apr

Keywords

  • Aerobic exercise
  • Aging
  • Cognitions
  • Grey matter
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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