Daily Physical Activity Patterns as a Window on Cognitive Diagnosis in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA)

J Alzheimers Dis. 2022;88(2):459-469. doi: 10.3233/JAD-215544.


Background: Gradual disengagement from daily physical activity (PA) could signal present or emerging mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer's disease (AD).

Objective: This study examined whether accelerometry-derived patterns of everyday movement differ by cognitive diagnosis in participants of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA).

Methods: Activity patterns, overall and by time-of-day, were cross-sectionally compared between participants with adjudicated normal cognition (n = 549) and MCI/AD diagnoses (n = 36; 5 participants [14%] living with AD) using covariate-adjusted regression models.

Results: Compared to those with normal cognition, those with MCI/AD had 2.1% higher activity fragmentation (SE = 1.0%, p = 0.036) but similar mean total activity counts/day (p = 0.075) and minutes/day spent active (p = 0.174). Time-of-day analyses show MCI/AD participants had lower activity counts and minutes spent active during waking hours (6:00 am-5:59 pm; p < 0.01 for all). Also, they had lower activity fragmentation from 12:00-5:59 am (p < 0.001), but higher fragmentation from 12:00-5:59 pm (p = 0.026).

Conclusion: Differences in the timing and patterns of physical activity throughout the day linked to MCI/AD diagnoses warrant further investigation into potential clinical utility.

Keywords: Accelerometry; Alzheimer’s disease; diurnal patterns; mild cognitive impairment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Aging / psychology
  • Alzheimer Disease* / diagnosis
  • Alzheimer Disease* / psychology
  • Baltimore
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / diagnosis
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / psychology
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies