Physical activity may promote cognitive health in older adults. Popular media play an important role in preventive health communication. This study examined articles discussing associations between physical activity and cognitive health in top-circulating magazines targeting older adults. 42,753 pages of magazines published from 2006 to 2008 were reviewed; 26 articles met inclusion criteria. Explanations regarding the link between physical activity and cognitive health were provided in 57.7% of articles. These explanations were generally consistent with empirical evidence; however, few articles included empirical evidence. Physical activity recommendations were presented in 80.8% of articles; a wide range was recommended (90–300 min of physical activity per wk). Socioeconomic status and education level were not mentioned in the text. Results suggest an opportunity for greater coverage regarding the role of physical activity in promoting cognitive health in popular media. Magazine content would benefit from including more empirical evidence, culturally sensitive content, and physical activity recommendations that are consistent with U.S. guidelines.
Price is with the Dept. of Health Sciences, Furman University, Greenville, SC. Corwin, Friedman, and Montgomery are with the Dept. of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior, and Colabianchi, the Dept. of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. Laditka is with the Dept. of Public Health Sciences, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC.