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Physical activity (PA) is believed to preserve cognitive function in older adulthood, though little is known about these relationships within the context of daily life. The present microlongitudinal pilot study explored within- and between-person relationships between daily PA and cognitive function and also examined within-person effect sizes in a sample of community-dwelling older adults. Fifty-one healthy participants (mean age = 70.1 years) wore an accelerometer and completed a cognitive assessment battery for five days. There were no significant associations between cognitive task performance and participants’ daily or average PA over the study period. Effect size estimates indicated that PA explained 0–24% of within-person variability in cognitive function, depending on cognitive task and PA dose. Results indicate that PA may have near-term cognitive effects and should be explored as a possible strategy to enhance older adults’ ability to perform cognitively complex activities within the context of daily living.

Phillips was formerly with the School of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL; and is now with the Center for Healthy Aging, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA. Edwards is with the School of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL. Andel is with the School of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL; and the International Clinical Research Center, St. Anne’s University Hospital, Brno, Czech Republic. Kilpatrick is with the College of Education, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL.

Address author correspondence to Christine B. Phillips at cbp11@psu.edu.