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Effect of exercise on cognitive function in chronic disease patients: a meta-analysis and systematic review of randomized controlled trials

Authors Cai H, Li G, Hua S, Liu Y, Chen L

Received 27 February 2017

Accepted for publication 6 April 2017

Published 11 May 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 773—783

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S135700

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Wu


Hong Cai,* Guichen Li,* Shanshan Hua, Yufei Liu, Li Chen

School of Nursing, Jilin University, Changchun, Jilin, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Background: The purpose of this study was to conduct a meta-analysis and systematic review to assess the effect of exercise on cognitive function in people with chronic diseases.
Methods: PubMed, Web of Science, Embase, the Cochrane Library, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and three Chinese databases were electronically searched for papers that were published until September 2016. This meta-analysis and systematic review included randomized controlled trials that evaluated the effect of exercise on cognitive function compared with control group for people with chronic diseases.
Results: Totally, 35 studies met the inclusion criteria, with 3,113 participants. The main analysis revealed a positive overall random effect of exercise intervention on cognitive function in patients with chronic diseases. The secondary analysis revealed that aerobic exercise interventions and aerobic included exercise interventions had a positive effect on cognition in patients with chronic diseases. The intervention offering low frequency had a positive effect on cognitive function in patients with chronic diseases. Finally, we found that interventions offered at both low exercise intensity and moderate exercise intensity had a positive effect on cognitive function in patients with chronic diseases. The secondary analysis also revealed that exercise interventions were beneficial in Alzheimer’s disease patients when grouped by disease type.
Conclusion: This meta-analysis and systematic review suggests that exercise interventions positively influence cognitive function in patients with chronic diseases. Beneficial effect was independent of the type of disease, type of exercise, frequency, and the intensity of the exercise intervention.

Keywords: exercise, cognitive function, physical activity

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