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Scientific article
Open access
English

The Relation of Having Experienced a Fall in the Past to Lower Cognitive Functioning in Old Age Is Mediated via Less Physical Activity Engagement as Cognitive Reserve Contributor

Published inBiology, vol. 11, no. 12, 1754
Publication date2022-12-01
First online date2022-12-01
Abstract

Physical activity and exercise contribute to the accumulation of cognitive reserve, which is instrumental for preserving cognitive health in old age. In a large sample of 701 older adults (mean age = 70.36 years), we investigated whether the relationship between having experienced a fall in the past and lower performance in cognitive functioning was mediated via less physical activity engagement as a cognitive reserve contributor. General cognition was assessed using the mini-mental state examination (MMSE), long-term memory using a word-pair delayed recall test and working memory using a backward digit-span test. In face-to-face interviews, individuals reported information on falls during the past 12 months and their habitual physical activity engagement. Our analyses demonstrated that the relationship between having experienced a fall in the past and lower performance in the cognitive functioning measures was partly mediated (by 16.3% for general cognition, 30.6% for long-term memory, and 33.1% for working memory, respectively) via less physical activity engagement. In conclusion, we suggest as a core bio-psychological mechanism that experiencing a fall at an older age is a critical life event that hinders sufficient physical activity engagement and thereby impedes cognitive reserve build-up, resulting in lower cognitive functioning outcomes.

eng
Keywords
  • Physical activity
  • Exercise
  • Falls
  • Mental health
  • Cognitive performance
  • Cognitive abilities
  • Cognitive reserve
  • Old age
  • Life events
Funding
  • Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P. - Laboratory of Robotics and Engineering Systems [UIDB/50009/2020]
Citation (ISO format)
IHLE, Andreas et al. The Relation of Having Experienced a Fall in the Past to Lower Cognitive Functioning in Old Age Is Mediated via Less Physical Activity Engagement as Cognitive Reserve Contributor. In: Biology, 2022, vol. 11, n° 12, p. 1754. doi: 10.3390/biology11121754
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Article (Published version)
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Identifiers
ISSN of the journal2079-7737
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