From January 2014, International Psychogeriatrics will be choosing a paper of the month. It is selected by the editorial team to point out a review or an original contribution which they think should be of great interest to most readers. Each paper of the month will be accompanied by a short commentary, provided by an editor, reviewer, or expert in the field.

The first of these is a systematic review on the effect of exercise on cognitive outcomes in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) by Farina et al.

With the global aging of our societies and predicted increase of cognitive impairment and dementia, it is no surprise that there is an increasing interest not only in the research community, but also among clinicians and the general population to learn more about how to focus on modifiable protective factors and how to avoid modifiable risk factors.

However, we should not forget about the various stages of prevention, and especially in the field of psychogeriatrics should also ask what preventative measures might be effective for older adults who have already experienced cognitive impairment.

The number of randomized controlled trials (RCT) investigating the effectiveness of physical activity on cognition is limited for healthy participants and those with MCI, but is even more sparse for those with dementia.

In the January issue of International Psychogeriatrics, Farina and colleagues publish a systematic review titled “The effect of exercise interventions on cognitive outcome in Alzheimer’s disease: a systematic review”. This paper will help readers of International Psychogeriatrics to critically review the evidence for physical activity and cognition provided by RCTs in patients with AD.”

The paper reviewed six studies that considered the effect of exercise in AD patients. Following analysis, the results suggest that exercise can have a positive effect on the rate of cognitive decline. This finding is encouraging and should be considered as another piece of evidence to encourage physical activity for older adults with AD.

While the overall positive result of this systematic review is promising, the limitations when interpreting this finding are plentiful, which Farina and colleagues thoroughly discuss in their paper. Most importantly, the number of studies included and the number of participants in these studies are small, which is a reminder that this area of research is still in its infancy.

The editorial team of International Psychogeriatrics selected this systematic review as paper of the month, since next to reviewing the evidence it discusses in detail what further research is needed in this important area. We also want to encourage other authors who consider writing systematic reviews in the field of psychogeriatrics to consider a submission to International Psychogeriatrics.

The full paper “The effect of exercise interventions on cognitive outcome in Alzheimer’s disease: a systematic review” is available free of charge for one month here.

The commentary on the paper “Physical activity in Alzheimer’s disease: research in its infancy or why we need more randomized controlled trials” is also available free of charge for one month here.


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