The effect of midlife physical activity on cognitive function among older adults: AGES--Reykjavik Study

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine; Department of Quantitative Health Sciences; Meyers Primary Care Institute

Publication Date


Document Type



Adult; Aging; Alleles; Apolipoproteins E; Cognition; Cohort Studies; Dementia; Executive Function; Female; Genetic Predisposition to Disease; *Heterozygote; Humans; Longitudinal Studies; Male; Memory; Mental Processes; Middle Aged; Motor Activity; Neuropsychological Tests; Risk Reduction Behavior; Time Factors


Biostatistics | Epidemiology | Geriatrics | Health Services Research


BACKGROUND: There are few studies on the long-term associations of physical activity (PA) to cognition. Here, we examine the association of midlife PA to late-life cognitive function and dementia.

METHODS: The sample consisted of a population-based cohort of men and women (born in 1907-1935) participating in the Age Gene/Environment Susceptibility-Reykjavik Study. The interval between the midlife ascertainment of PA and late-life cognitive function was 26 years. Composite scores of speed of processing, memory, and executive function were assessed with a battery of neuropsychological tests, and dementia was diagnosed according to international guidelines. There were 4,761 nondemented participants and 184 (3.7%) with a diagnosis of dementia, with complete data for the analysis.

RESULTS: Among the participants, no midlife PA was reported by 68.8%, 5 hours PA by 4.5%. Excluding participants with dementia compared with the no PA group, both PA groups had significantly faster speed of processing (5 hours, beta = .32, p trend < .0001), better memory (5 hours, beta = .18, p trend < .0001), and executive function (5 hours, beta = .18, p trend< .0001), after controlling for demographic and cardiovascular factors. The

CONCLUSION: Midlife PA may contribute to maintenance of cognitive function and may reduce or delay the risk of late-life dementia.

DOI of Published Version



J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2010 Dec;65(12):1369-74. Epub 2010 Aug 30. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences

PubMed ID


Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed