Two follow-up studies were designed to analyze die cross-seciional and longitudinal associations between cognitive functioning and physical activity among two cohorts of elderly people. At baseline, over 90% of the 75- and 80-year-old populations were interviewed at home and almost 80% participated in the laboratory examinations. Cognitive functioning was assessed by psychometric tests and reaction time tasks, and physical activity was assessed by a subjective self-assessment as well as by objectively measured maximal walking speed. Among both cohorts, the decline over the 5-year period in cognitive functioning as well as in physical activity was generally small but statistically significant. The test-retest correlations were higher for the cognitive functioning scores than for the physical activity variables. The associations between cognitive functioning and physical activity were inconsistent and showed some differences between men and women.
Timo Suutama and Isto Ruoppila
Sanna Takkinen, Timo Suutama and Isto Ruoppila
This study examined longitudinally the predictive value of physical activity for a sense of meaning in life and for self-rated health and functioning. The study was part of the Evergreen Project in Jyväskylä, Finland. A representative sample (N = 198) of elderly persons born between 1904 and 1913 was interviewed in 1988 and followed up in 1996. The interviews dealt with physical, psychological, and social functioning. The interview questions selected for this study dealt with the intensity of physical activity, meaning in life, and self-rated health and functioning. Longitudinal models showed that physical activity had a positive effect on both meaning in life and self-rated health and functioning. Physical activity and meaning in life also had indirect effects on self-rated health and functioning.