Cognitive resources explain engagement in physical activity and its age-related decline: A longitudinal study of 105,206 participants

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Description: Cognitive resources may be critical to counteract an automatic attraction to effort minimization and increase the engagement in physical activity. Large-scale longitudinal studies are required to assess whether inter-individual differences and intra-individual changes in cognitive resources explain this engagement across aging. Data from 105,206 adults aged 50 to 90 years from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) were used in adjusted linear mixed models to examine whether the engagement in physical activity and its evolution across aging was dependent on cognitive resources. Cognitive resources and physical activity were measured 5 times over a 12-year period. Delayed recall, verbal fluency, and the level of education were used as indicators of cognitive resources. The frequency of engagement in moderate and vigorous physical activity was self-reported. Results showed that lower cognitive resources were associated with lower levels and steeper decreases in physical activity across aging. The associations between inter-individual cognitive differences and engagement in moderate physical activity increased across aging. These findings suggest that, after 50 years old, the level of engagement in physical activity and its trajectory over aging depend on the level of cognitive resources still available.

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