The impact of physical exercise on hippocampal atrophy in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease: a meta-analysis.

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california; santa monia; pni


Physical activity (PA) is a promising therapeutic for Alzheimer's disease (AD). Only a handful of meta-analyses have studied the impact of PA interventions on regional brain volumes, and none to date has solely included studies on effect of PA on regional brain volumes in individuals with cognitive impairment (CI). In this meta-analysis, we examined whether there is support for the hypothesis that PA interventions positively impact hippocampal volume (HV) in individuals with CI. We also assessed whether the level of CI [mild CI (MCI) vs. AD] impacted this relationship. We identified six controlled trials that met inclusion criteria. These included 236 participants with AD, MCI, or preclinical AD. Data were extracted and analyzed following Cochrane guidelines. We used a random-effects model to estimate the mean change in HV pre- and post-exercise intervention. Forest plots, Hedges' g funnel plots, and Egger's test were used to assess unbiasedness and visualize intervention effects, and Tau 2 , Cochran's Q, and I 2 were calculated to assess heterogeneity. The primary analysis revealed a significant positive effect of PA on total HV. However, sub-group analyses indicated a significant preservation of HV only in individuals with MCI, but not in those with AD. Egger's test indicated no evidence of publication bias. Subgroup analyses also revealed significant heterogeneity only within the MCI cohort for the total and left HV. PA demonstrated a moderate, significant effect in preserving HV among individuals with MCI, but not AD, highlighting a therapeutic benefit, particularly in earlier disease stages.

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)

Clinical Institute

Mental Health




Behavioral Health