HealthDay News — Being physically active at any point during adulthood is associated with a higher later-life cognitive state, according to a study published online Feb. 21 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.
Sarah-Naomi James, Ph.D., from University College London, and colleagues examined the association of being physically active between ages 36 and 69 years with cognition at age 69 years among 1,417 participants from a prospective longitudinal cohort study. Participation in leisure-time physical activity was reported five times and categorized into not active (no participation/month), moderately active (one to four times/month), and most active (five or more times/month). Tests of cognitive state, verbal memory, and processing speed were assessed at age 69 years.
The researchers found higher cognition at age 69 years was associated with being physically active at all five assessments during adulthood. For cognitive state and verbal memory, the effect sizes were similar across all adult ages and between those who were moderately and most physically active. The strongest association was seen for sustained cumulative physical activity and later-life cognitive state, with a dose-response pattern. These associations were largely attenuated after adjustment for childhood cognition, childhood socioeconomic position, and education, but the results remained significant at the 5 percent level.
“Our findings support guidelines to recommend participation in any physical activity across adulthood and provide evidence that encouraging inactive adults to be more active at any time, and encouraging already active adults to maintain activity, could confer benefits on later-life cognition,” the authors write.