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


Chang, M., Jonsson, P. V., Snaedal, J., Bjornsson, S., Saczynski, J. S., Aspelund, T., Eiriksdottir, G., Jonsdottir, M. K., Lopez, O. L., Harris, T. B., Gudnason, V., Launer, L. J.


The Journals Of Gerontology. Series A, Biological Sciences And Medical Sciences, Volume: 65, No.: 12, Pages.: 1369-1374

Year of Publication



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

Bibtex Citation

@article{Chang_2010, doi = {10.1093/gerona/glq152}, url = {}, year = 2010, month = {aug}, publisher = {Oxford University Press ({OUP})}, volume = {65A}, number = {12}, pages = {1369--1374}, author = {M. Chang and P. V. Jonsson and J. Snaedal and S. Bjornsson and J. S. Saczynski and T. Aspelund and G. Eiriksdottir and M. K. Jonsdottir and O. L. Lopez and T. B. Harris and V. Gudnason and L. J. Launer}, title = {The Effect of Midlife Physical Activity on Cognitive Function Among Older Adults: {AGES}--Reykjavik Study}, journal = {The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences} }


adult, aging, alleles, apolipoproteins e, cognition, cohort studies, dementia, executive function, female, genetic predisposition to disease, genetics, heterozygote, humans, longitudinal studies, male, memory, mental processes, middle aged, motor activity, neuropsychological tests, physiology, prevention & control, psychology, risk reduction behavior, time factors

Countries of Study


Types of Dementia

Dementia (general / unspecified)

Types of Study

Cohort Study, Epidemiological

Type of Outcomes


Type of Interventions

Risk Factor Modification

Risk Factor Modifications

General population health promotion