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Public Health Article

Effect of combined physical and cognitive interventions on executive functions in older adults: A meta-analysis of outcomes



Review Quality Rating: 7 (moderate)

Citation: Guo W, Zang M, Klich S, Kawczynski A, Smoter M, & Wang B. (2020). Effect of combined physical and cognitive interventions on executive functions in older adults: A meta-analysis of outcomes. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(17).

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Abstract

Background: Both physical exercise and cognitive training can effectively improve executive functions in older adults. However, whether physical activity combined with cognitive training is more effective than a single intervention remains controversial. The aim of this study was to perform a meta-analysis to evaluate the effect of combined physical and cognitive interventions on executive functions in older adults aged 65-80 years old. Methods: Randomized controlled trials of combined physical and cognitive interventions on executive functions in older adults were searched using the Web of Science, Elsevier Science, PubMed, EBSCO, Springer-Link, and NATURE databases. Data extraction and quality evaluation were done by Comprehensive Meta-Analysis, V3. Results: A total of 21 studies were included. The results showed that the combined physical and cognitive interventions produced significantly larger gains in executive functions, compared to the control group (standardized mean difference (SMD) = 0.26, 95% confidence interval (CI) [0.14, 0.39], p < 0.01). Furthermore, the effects of the combined physical and cognitive interventions were moderated by the study quality, intervention length, and intervention frequency. No significant differences were found between the combined interventions and the physical intervention alone (SMD = 0.13, 95% CI [-0.07, 0.33], p > 0.05) or the cognitive intervention alone (SMD = 0.13, 95% CI [-0.05, 0.30], p > 0.05). Conclusions: The combined physical and cognitive interventions effectively delayed the decrease of executive functions in older adults and this effect was influenced by the length and frequency of the intervention as well as the research quality. However, the effect of the combined physical and cognitive interventions was not significantly better than that of each intervention alone.


Keywords

Behaviour Modification (e.g., provision of item/tool, incentives, goal setting), Commercial Site, Community, Home, Mental Health, Meta-analysis, Physical Activity, Senior Health, Seniors (60+ years)

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