The purpose of this study was to summarize the effects of physical activity (PA) as a nonpharmacological preventative measure in people at risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD) or all-cause dementia. It was hypothesized that persons at risk of AD or all-cause dementia who engage in sustained and continuous PA would fare better in terms of physical health, cognition, and activities of daily living (ADLs). A systematic literature review was conducted in the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) using 12 keywords. Studies were included if they were randomized controlled trials with people at risk of AD or all-cause dementia reporting outcomes of PA on three domains, namely: physical health, cognition, or ADLs. Data was extracted using the Matrix Method and results were summarized using applied thematic analyses. Out of 55 records screened, eight met the inclusion criteria for data extraction. Findings indicate statistically significant improvement in four [HLC1] metrics of physical health such as balance, strength, stamina, and oxygenation. Findings also showed statistically significant improvement in four measures of cognition (short-term memory, lucidity, executive function, and language ability). Two studies reported statistically significant improvement in two measures of ADLs (less assistance to complete daily tasks and execution of instrumental activities). Overall, studies showed that physical health, cognition, and two measures of ADLs of people at risk of AD and all-cause dementia improve with sustained and continuous PA, although the interventions and measures were extremely heterogeneous. Future research and intervention efforts should align PA efforts with current universal recommendations to improve outcomes in the general population and in those at risk of AD and all-cause dementia.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Lopez Castillo, Humberto


Jeanette Garcia


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Health and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Health Sciences



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date