Leisure-time physical activity from mid- to late life, body mass index, and risk of dementia

Alzheimers Dement. 2015 Apr;11(4):434-443.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2014.01.008. Epub 2014 Apr 8.


Background: Physical activity may be beneficial for cognition, but the effect may vary depending on personal characteristics.

Methods: We investigated the associations between leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) from mid- to late life, the risk of dementia, and the role of body mass index, sex, and APOE in the CAIDE study during 28-year follow-up. Cognitive function of a random subsample was assessed at a mean age of 78.8 years (n = 1511), and dementia/Alzheimer's disease (AD) diagnoses were identified from national registers for the entire target population (n = 3559).

Results: Moderate (hazard ratio [HR], 1.46; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.08-1.99) and low levels of midlife LTPA (HR, 1.39; 95% CI, 0.99-1.95) were associated with higher risk of dementia in comparison with the most active category. The benefits were more pronounced among men, overweight individuals, and APOE ε4 noncarriers. Maintaining high LTPA (HR, 0.16; 95% CI, 0.06-0.41) or increasing LTPA (HR, 0.19; 95% CI, 0.09-0.40) after midlife was associated with lower dementia risk. Similar results were observed for AD.

Conclusions: The window of opportunity for preventive physical activity interventions may extend from midlife to older ages.

Keywords: Cohort study; Dementia; Exercise; Life course; Obesity; Physical activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Community Health Planning
  • Dementia* / diagnosis
  • Dementia* / epidemiology
  • Dementia* / psychology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities / psychology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Neuroimaging
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Factors