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A Journal on Sports Medicine

Official Journal of the Italian Sports Medicine Federation
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Medicina dello Sport 2016 March;69(1):151-61


language: English, Italian

Relationship between physical activity and cognitive decline in aging

Enzo IULIANO 1, Alessandra DI CAGNO 1, Giovanna AQUINO 1, Eugenio M. PISTONE 2, Despina TSOPANI 3, Giuseppe CALCAGNO 1, Alfonso DI COSTANZO 1, Giovanni FIORILLI 1

1 Università degli Studi del Foro ltalico, Rome, Italy; 2 Università degli Studi del Molise, Campobasso, Italy; 3 National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece


BACKGROUND: A decrease of physical activity is common in older adults and contributes to their cognitive decline. The aim of this study was to verify if cognitive performance in older adults may benefit from an active life-style. For this purpose, we investigated the relationships between the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE) scores and cognitive performance measurements in older adults at risk of cognitive impairment and dementia.
METHODS: Two hundred and thirty five older adults, aged 64.22±8.38, completed PASE and a battery of cognitive tests.
RESULTS: Significant but low correlations were found between PASE Total Score (PASE-T) and cognitive test scores assessing memory, such as Rey’s Memory Test, immediate recall (Rey-IR) (P<0.05) and delayed recall (Rey-DR) (P<0.01), executive functions, such as frontal assessment battery (FAB) (P<0.05), whereas negative correlation was found with Stroop Color Word Test time (P<0.05). PASE Sub-Score For Housework Activities (PASE-H) was significantly and positively correlated with FAB (P<0.05), Rey-IR (P<0.01), Rey-DR (P<0.01) and Raven’s Progressive Matrices (P<0.05), and negatively correlated with Stroop Color Word Test time (P<0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that an active daily life style and a low-to moderate-intensity physical activity, such as engaging in domestic works, might be useful to cognitive health in older adults. Household activities can be considered as regular and light/moderate PA program in which participants were daily employed. The household activities require attention, organization and problem solving, and consequently could work as “cognitive training”, improving cognitive performance.

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