Aim The increasing rate of all-cause dementia worldwide and the lack of effective pharmaceutical treatments emphasise the value of lifestyle approaches as prevention strategies. Emerging evidence suggests sedentary behaviour is associated with impaired cognitive function. A better understanding of this association would significantly add to our knowledge of how to best promote healthy cognitive ageing. Thus, we conducted a systematic review ascertaining the contribution of sedentary behaviour towards associated changes in cognitive function over the adult lifespan.
Study design Systematic review of peer-reviewed literature examining the association of sedentary behaviour with cognition.
Data sources We searched PubMed, PsycINFO, EBSCO and Web of Science, and reference lists of relevant reviews on sedentary behaviour. Two independent reviewers extracted (1) study characteristics and (2) information regarding measurement of sedentary behaviour and cognitive function. We also assessed study quality using the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) checklist.
Eligibility criteria We limited search results to adults ≥40 years, observational studies published in English since 1990 and studies investigating associations between sedentary behaviour and cognitive function.
Results 8 studies examined the association of sedentary behaviour with cognitive function. 6 studies reported significant negative associations between sedentary behaviour and cognitive function. 8 different measures of sedentary behaviour and 13 different measures of cognitive function were used across all eight studies.
Summary Sedentary behaviour is associated with lower cognitive performance, although the attributable risk of sedentary time to all-cause dementia incidence is unclear. Our systematic review provides evidence that limiting sedentary time and concomitantly engaging in regular moderate-to-vigorous physical activity may best promote healthy cognitive ageing.
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