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Rev Bras Psiquiatr. 2009 Jun;31(2):163-70.

[Systematized physical activity and cognitive performance in elderly with Alzheimer's dementia: a systematic review].

[Article in Portuguese]

Author information

  • 1Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências da Motricidade, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Rio Claro, SP, Brasil.



Despite the growing evidence of the benefits of physical exercise for cognition, there is a controversy about the systematic practice of physical activity in patients with Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, the objective of this study was to procedure a systematic review of studies that analyzed the effect of systematized physical activity on cognitive performance in elderly individuals with Alzheimer's disease.


We conducted a search in PsycINFO, Biological Abstracts, Medline, Web of Science, Physical Education and SPORTDiscus Index from 1990 to 2008, using the following keywords: 'physical activity', 'physical therapy', 'exercise', 'fitness', 'aerobic', 'strength', 'intervention', 'cognition', 'cognitive performance', 'Alzheimer's disease', 'Alzheimer's dementia', 'Alzheimer's', and cross-references of selected articles.


There were found eight studies that met inclusion criteria adopted for the present work. These studies showed that systematized physical activity contributed to at least improve temporarily some cognitive functions of patients with Alzheimer's disease, particularly, attention, executive functions and language.


Unable to establish a protocol of recommendations about the type and intensity of systematized physical activity required to produce benefits in cognitive functioning. However, the practice of regular systematized physical activity appears to contribute to the preservation or improvement of cognitive functions in patients with Alzheimer's disease.

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