Midlife physical activity can help improve cognitive functions later in life

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Midlife physical activity

It is known that physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline; however, the nature of this association remains obscure.

In a recent study, scientists find that midlife physical activity can help improve cognitive functions later in life. The finding is published in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Researchers from Helsinki University Central Hospital and University of Helsinki in Finland, University of Jyväskylä in Finland, University of Turku in Finland, and National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland conducted the study.

They focused on the associations between midlife physical activity and cognition in old age for a prospective study of Finnish twins.

In the study, 3,050 participants were involved. Their physical activity was assessed with questionnaire responses collected in 1975 and 1981.

After a mean follow-up of 25.1 years, the participants’ (age range 66–97) cognition was tested with a validated telephone interview.

Based on the results, participants were divided into cognitively impaired, suffering mild cognitive impairment, or cognitively healthy.

Researchers found that vigorous physical activity was associated with a lower risk of cognitive impairment. In addition, the most physically active people had a reduced risk of cognitive decline compared with the most inactive people.

Based on the findings, researchers suggest that vigorous midlife physical activity was associated with less cognitive impairment.


Citation: Iso-Markku P, et al. (2016). Midlife Physical Activity and Cognition Later in Life: A Prospective Twin Study. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, published online, 1. DOI: 10.3233/JAD-160377.
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