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Neurology. 2004 Dec 28;63(12):2316-21.

Physical activity in relation to cognitive decline in elderly men: the FINE Study.

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  • 1Centre for Prevention and Health Services Research, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, PO Box 1, Internal Postal Code 101, 3720 BA Bilthoven, The Netherlands.



Physical activity may be associated with better cognition.


To investigate whether change in duration and intensity of physical activity is associated with 10-year cognitive decline in elderly men.


Data of 295 healthy survivors, born between 1900 and 1920, from the Finland, Italy, and the Netherlands Elderly (FINE) Study were used. From 1990 onward, physical activity was measured with a validated questionnaire for retired men and cognitive functioning with the Mini-Mental State Examination (maximum score 30 points).


The rates of cognitive decline did not differ among men with a high or low duration of activity at baseline. However, a decrease in activity duration of >60 min/day over 10 years resulted in a decline of 1.7 points (p < 0.0001). This decline was 2.6 times stronger than the decline of men who maintained their activity duration (p = 0.06). Men in the lowest intensity quartile at baseline had a 1.8 (p = 0.07) to 3.5 (p = 0.004) times stronger 10-year cognitive decline than those in the other quartiles. A decrease in intensity of physical activity of at least half a standard deviation was associated with a 3.6 times stronger decline than maintaining the level of intensity (p = 0.003).


Even in old age, participation in activities with at least a medium-low intensity may postpone cognitive decline. Moreover, a decrease in duration or intensity of physical activity results in a stronger cognitive decline than maintaining duration or intensity.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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