Send to

Choose Destination
J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2010 Dec;65(12):1369-74. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glq152. Epub 2010 Aug 30.

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

Author information

Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, 7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20892-9205, USA.



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.


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.


Among the participants, no midlife PA was reported by 68.8%, ≤ 5 hours PA by 26.5%, and >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, β = .22; >5 hours, β = .32, p trend < .0001), better memory (≤ 5 hours, β = .15; >5 hours, β = .18, p trend < .0001), and executive function (≤ 5 hours, β = .09; >5 hours, β = .18, p trend< .0001), after controlling for demographic and cardiovascular factors. The ≤ 5 hours PA group was significantly less likely to have dementia in late life (odds ratio: 0.6, 95% confidence interval: 0.40-0.88) after adjusting for confounders.


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

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center