Intensity, but not duration, of physical activities is related to cognitive function

Maaike Angevaren*, Luc Vanhees, Wanda Wendel-Vos, Harald J. J. Verhaar, Geert Aufdernkarnpe, Andrie Aleman, W. M. Monique Verschuren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


Background Physical activity is thought to facilitate cognitive performance and to slow down the rate of age-related cognitive decline. This study aimed to investigate the association between the time spent on physical activity as well as the average intensity of these activities and cognitive function.

Design Cross-sectional analysis.

Methods Our study population comprised of 1927 healthy men and women aged 45-70 years in the Netherlands, examined from 1995 until 2000. Physical activity was assessed with an extensive questionnaire, and cognitive function by a neurcipsychological test battery.

Results Multivariate linear regression analysis showed that intensity of weekly physical activities is significantly positively associated with processing speed, memory, mental flexibility and overall cognitive function. No significant associations were observed between the time spent weekly on physical activities and the various cognitive domains. At the same time, variation in activities was significantly positively associated with speed, memory, mental flexibility and overall cognitive function.

Conclusions Average intensity of weekly physical activities and variation in activities are positively and significantly associated with cognitive performance on processing speed, memory and mental flexibility as well as performance on overall cognitive function. Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil 14:825-830 (c) 2007.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)825-830
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean journal of cardiovascular prevention & rehabilitation
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2007


  • cognition
  • cross-sectional studies
  • leisure activities
  • mental processes
  • motor activity
  • neuropsychological tests
  • RISK
  • MEN

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