The relationship between physical activity and cognition in older Latinos

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2012 Sep;67(5):525-34. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbr137. Epub 2012 Feb 9.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between minutes spent participating in light and moderate/vigorous-intensity physical activity (PA) and cognition in older Latinos, controlling for demographics, chronic health problems, and acculturation.

Method: A cross-sectional study design was used. Participants were self-identified Latinos, without disability, who had a score less than 14 on a 21-point Mini-Mental State Examination. Participants were recruited from predominantly Latino communities in Chicago at health fairs, senior centers, and community centers. PA was measured with an accelerometer, worn for 7 days. Episodic memory and executive function (inference control, inattention, and word fluency) were measured with validated cognitive tests.

Results: Participants were 174 Latino men (n = 46) and women (n = 128) aged 50-84 years (M = 66 years). After adjusting for control variables (demographics, chronic health problems) and other cognitive measures, regression analyses revealed that minutes per day of light-intensity PA (r = -.51), moderate/vigorous PA (r = -.56), and counts per minute (r=-.62) were negatively associated with lower word fluency.

Discussion: Findings suggest that the cognitive benefits of both light-intensity PA and moderate/vigorous PA may be domain-specific.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Chicago
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / ethnology*
  • Cognition Disorders / therapy*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disease Progression
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Status Schedule / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Psychometrics
  • Time Factors