Cardiorespiratory fitness and risk of dementia: a prospective population-based cohort study

Age Ageing. 2018 Jul 1;47(4):611-614. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afy060.


Dementia is considered to be one of the major public health problems in light of the ageing population. Little is known about directly measured cardiorespiratory fitness as measured by maximal oxygen uptake and the risk of dementia. Our aim was to examine the relationship of cardiorespiratory fitness, as indicated by maximal oxygen uptake, with subsequent incidence of dementia. This was a population-based cohort study with an average follow-up of 22 (range 0.22-29.8) years from eastern Finland. About 2,031 men with a mean age of 52.8 years of age and no history of dementia or pulmonary disease at baseline participated in the study. Among these men, 208 cases of dementia occurred. Maximal oxygen uptake (ml/kg/min) was measured during exercise testing at baseline. One standard deviation increase in VO2max was associated with a 20% decrease in dementia. Cardiorespiratory fitness was inversely related to the risk of dementia. Men with low cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2max < 23.7 ml/kg/min, lowest quintile) had a 1.92-fold (1.24-2.967, P = 0.003), risk of dementia as compared with men who had high cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2max >36.5 ml/kg/min, highest quintile) after adjusting for age and examination years. In a multivariate model, low cardiorespiratory fitness was associated with a 1.95-fold (1.24-3.05, P = 0.003) risk of dementia. Our findings show that low cardiorespiratory fitness was associated with an increased risk of dementia.

Keywords: demenita; exercise test; older people; risk factor.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cardiorespiratory Fitness*
  • Dementia / diagnosis
  • Dementia / epidemiology*
  • Dementia / physiopathology
  • Dementia / psychology
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Prospective Studies
  • Protective Factors
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors