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Minerva Med. 2013 Feb;104(1):61-74.

Characteristics of spontaneous physical activity and executive functions in postmenopause.

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Department of Medicine and Aging Sciences, G. d'Annunzio University and Aging Research Centre, Chieti-Pescara, Italy.



Executive functions are susceptible to age-related changes, and menopause has also been shown to be linked with their decline. The aim of the present study was to investigate the variables related to executive functions in postmenopausal women not involved in controlled dietary and physical exercise programs and without hormone-replacement therapy.


Fifty-seven women (58.39 ±4.16 yr) were investigated for their medical history, blood lipids, insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), body composition, blood pressure, executive functions (Digit Span and Trail Making tests), maximal aerobic capacity, dietary habits, and spontaneous physical activity.


Cluster analysis performed on the basal data of the Digit Span scores and Trail Making tests identified two subgroups: Group A (N.=24) that showed better executive functions than Group B (N.=33). Although these subgroups differed across several variables of body composition, plasma lipids, dietary habits, spontaneous physical activity, aerobic fitness, and insulin resistance, logistic regression models showed B10m/die as the only predictive variable for subgroup membership.


In the absence of a physical exercise program, the knowledge of how spontaneous physical activity is organized (B10m/die) is important for executive functions of post-menopausal women. It is the specific moderate to intense physical activity characteristic of B10m/die, rather than generic physical activity, that seems to determine the maintenance or attainment of cognitive health through body movement.

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