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Physical Activity Can Slow Down Brain Aging

Key Message

A low level of leisure-time physical activity is independently associated with greater decline in cognitive performance over time across domains.


Willey, Joshua Z. et al. (2016). Leisure-time physical activity associates with cognitive decline. Neurology. Published online before print March 2016. doi:http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/​10.​1212/​WNL.​0000000000002582


Because leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) is protective against incident dementia, we hypothesized that LTPA is protective against decline in domain-specific cognitive performance.


No/low levels of LTPA were associated with worse executive function, semantic memory, and processing speed scores on the first NPE. The associations were slightly attenuated and no longer significant after adjusting for vascular risk factors. Cognitively unimpaired participants reporting no/low LTPA vs moderate/high levels declined more over time in processing speed (β = −0.231 ± 0.112, p = 0.040) and episodic memory (β = −0.223 ± 0.117, p = 0.057) adjusting for sociodemographic and vascular risk factors.

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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