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Table 4 Summary of reviews examining whether physical activity in healthy older adults is associated with a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias

From: Formulation of evidence-based messages to promote the use of physical activity to prevent and manage Alzheimer’s disease

Reference Quality score Type Characteristics of included reviews Conclusions
# of studiesa Design Participants PA
Beckett et al. 2015 [4] 7 MA 9 Prospective cohort studies Cognitively healthy older adults, ≥65 years Any PA PA is associated with a ↓ risk of developing AD in adults 65 years and older. RR of .61, 95% CI 0.52-0.73 for physically active older adults compared to non-active counterparts.
Barnes et al., 2011 [5] 4 NR 2 Prospective cohort studies No dementia diagnosis at baseline Any PA Of seven potentially modifiable risk factors examined, physical inactivity contributed to the largest proportion of AD cases in the US and a substantial proportion of cases globally.
Beydoun et al., 2014 [6] 7 MA 8 Cohort studies with sample size > 300 Generally healthy older adults Any PA RR of AD = 0.58 (0.49,0.70) for the group reporting the highest PA versus the lowest PA. PAR% = 31.9%, 95% CI 22.7–41.2%.
Daviglus et al., 2011 [7] 9 NR & MA 12 Cohort studies with sample size ≥ 300 General population in developed countries, ≥50 year Self-reported PA. NR: 8/12 studies reported a protective effect of moderate to high levels of PA on risk of AD; however, the associations were not always significant after adjusting for confounding factors or when looking across high and moderate activity levels.
MA: Across 9 cohort studies, higher PA associated with ↓risk of incident AD (HR = 0.72); however, substantial heterogeneity among studies.
Hamer et al., 2009 [8] 11 MA 5 Prospective cohort studies Diagnosis of dementia/AD Any PA PA ↓risk of AD by 45%. RR of AD = 0.55 for the group reporting the highest PA versus the lowest PA
Patterson et al., 2007 [10] 6 NR 3 Longitudinal cohort studies Representative of Canadian demographic, exclusion of dementia at baseline Any PA or energy expenditure 3/3 studies provided evidence that regular physical activity is associated with a reduced risk for AD.
Rolland et al., 2008 [11] 5 NR 24 Longitudinal epidemiological studies No dementia diagnosis at baseline, ≥60 year Any PA or energy expenditure 20/24 studies suggested a significant and independent preventive effect of physical activity on cognitive decline, or dementia, or AD risk. Physical activity could reduce the incidence of AD.
  1. Note. aFor meta-analyses, ‘# of studies’ refers to the number of unique studies included in the reported meta-analyses
  2. AD Alzheimer’s disease, HR hazard ration, MA meta-analysis, NR narrative review, OR odds ratio, PA physical activity, PAR% population attributable risk percent, RR relative risk