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Aging Clin Exp Res. 2007 Oct;19(5):410-6.

Physical activity and risk of cognitive impairment among older persons living in the community.

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  • 1Department of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Rome, Italy.



Despite growing interest in the physical and environmental factors associated with the risk of cognitive decline, there is still a lack of information explaining whether they are related to each other. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the relationship of lifetime physical activity with cognitive performance in older persons aged 80 years or older.


Data are from the baseline evaluation of the ilSIRENTE Study (n=364). Cognitive performance was assessed using a 6-item, 7-category scale [Cognitive Performance Scale (CPS)]. The questionnaire in the ilSIRENTE study form contained one item asking respondents about the frequency of light and high physical activity. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to examine the effect of different levels of physical activity on cognitive performance, after adjustment for potential confounding variables.


The mean age of 364 subjects participating in the study was 85.9 (standard deviation [SD] 4.9) years, and 244 (67.0%) were women. Of the total sample, 158 subjects (43%) had a history of high intensity physical activity during young age; the rate of high intensity physical activity was lower during adult age and old age (125 and 67 subjects, respectively). After adjustment for potential confounders, individuals with a history of high intensity physical activity had a significantly lower CPS score (indicating better performance) than other participants, independently of the age period considered.


The present study suggests that, among old-old subjects living in the community, a history of high physical activity is associated with better cognitive performance.

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