Relationship between decline in cognitive resources and physical activity

Health Psychol. 2020 Jun;39(6):519-528. doi: 10.1037/hea0000857. Epub 2020 Mar 23.


Objective: This study aimed to test whether the level of cognitive resources explains engagement in physical activity across aging and whether the age-related decline of cognitive resources precede the decline in physical activity.

Method: Data from 105,206 adults aged 50 to 90 years from the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) were used in adjusted linear mixed models to examine whether the engagement in moderate physical activity and its evolution across aging were dependent on cognitive resources. Cognitive resources and physical activity were measured 5 times over a 12-year period. Delayed recall, verbal fluency, and the level of education were used as indicators of cognitive resources. The frequency of engagement in moderate physical activity was self-reported. Dynamic structural equation models (SEM) were used to assess the temporal precedence of changes in cognitive resources and physical activity.

Results: Lower cognitive resources were associated with lower levels and steeper decreases in moderate physical activity across aging. Results further revealed a time-ordered effect with a stronger influence of cognitive resources (delayed recall and verbal fluency) on subsequent changes in moderate physical activity than the opposite.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that, after age 50, the level of engagement in moderate physical activity and its trajectory depend on the availability of cognitive resources. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests / standards*