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Alzheimers Dement. 2007 Apr;3(2):98-108. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2007.01.009.

Physical activity and cognitive health.

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  • 1The Institute on Aging, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA.



The industrialized nations are experiencing a demographic revolution due to the continuing increase in longevity and the rapid rise in the percentage of the population over 65 years old. Interventions that promote healthy aging will continue to gain significance as efforts to delay disability and loss of function intensify.


Since physical activity has been implicated in promoting healthy aging, here we review a large body of research that examines physical activity and cognitive health. Specifically, we focus on the associations of physical activity with cognitive function and dementia, including prevention, delay or slowing down of disease progression. Thus, we have prepared a descriptive review of the literature including various types of publications, prospective cohort, case-control, clinical trial and meta-analysis papers, published since 1999 in peer-reviewed journals.


Based on currently available data, we conclude that the relative risk of cognitive decline with aging may diminish in individuals who are physically active; however, this has not been definitively demonstrated thus far.


Further research is needed to determine conclusively the effects of physical activity on cognitive function and dementia and to elucidate the basis for this linkage.

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