The Journal of Physical Fitness and Sports Medicine
Online ISSN : 2186-8123
Print ISSN : 2186-8131
ISSN-L : 2186-8131
Review Article
A narrative review of the relationship between early-life physical activity and later-life cognitive function
Toru IshiharaAkira Kyan
ジャーナル オープンアクセス

2022 年 11 巻 3 号 p. 137-147


Enhancing and maintaining cognitive function is important for just about every aspect of life, including academic and job success, marital harmony, quality of life, and well-being. Enriching activities during childhood and adolescence have potential benefits for life-long cognitive and brain health. Here, we narratively review the current literature to evaluate whether early-life physical activity predicts later-life cognitive function. Even though limited literature was available on this topic, some consistent findings were reported. A few retrospective and prospective studies in this area suggest that early-life physical activity could have benefits on later-life cognitive function. This positive relationship may have two pathways: through a later-life physical activity-mediated pathway and through a cognitive reserve pathway. Importantly, this positive association was observed regardless of age at cognitive assessment, suggesting that it may be sustained throughout life. Although the moderating roles of period and individual differences in this association are still under-studied, the following possibilities can be considered. First, the association may be stronger if physical activity occurs at an earlier age. Second, early-life physical activity may be less effective in women than men. The positive association between early-life physical activity and later-life cognitive function has been reported in broad aspects of cognition, including global cognitive function, processing speed, memory, response inhibition, and working memory. Further research may clarify how early-life physical activity results in substantial long-lasting cognitive benefits.

© 2022 The Japanese Society of Physical Fitness and Sports Medicine

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