Purpose: Physical activity could help prevent or slow deficits in cognition as an individual age; however, little is known about this relationship in females ages 55 to 64. The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between physical activity levels and cognitive decline in females ages 55 to 64.
Methods: This cross sectional analysis used 2015 data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) for females ages 55 to 64 in Connecticut, Montana, and Oregon. Logistic regression was used to assess the relationship between physical activity levels and cognitive decline while controlling for health and demographic factors.
Results: Across states, few participants reported cognitive decline (10-14%), and only one-fifth reported being inactive (18-29%), while twice as many reported being highly active (34-48%). Adjusted results indicated that cognitive decline was not found to be significantly related to physical activity levels in any state, but cognitive decline was significantly related to number of health conditions, mental health, and substance use (all with moderate to large effect sizes) in two or three of three states.
Conclusion: Across states, cognitive decline was not related to physical activity levels in females ages 55 to 64. The measurement for cognitive decline provided a limited scope of the condition and this study was unable to control for menopause and hormone replacement therapy, which may affect the outcome. Primary providers should not screen for physical activity levels related to cognitive decline in this population, but should screen for cognitive decline, multiple health conditions, current mental health issues, and substance use, if symptoms present for any of these in this target population.
Providers should educate patients about the overall benefits of physical activity, but should focus on concurrently managing health conditions and discontinuing tobacco use as related to cognitive decline in females ages 55 to 64.
Amber Hassan Hussein, Lauren Hatfield, Blessie Valdez and Jessica L Hartos
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