Category Archive for: ‘Physical activity’

Physical activity, APOE4 genotype and cognitive decline

Physical activity and APOE4 genotype related to cognitive decline

In elderly men of the FINE study a decrease in average physical activity over time was associated with a greater cognitive decline than in those maintaining physical activity. APOE4 carriers with a low level of physical activity are particularly at high risk of cognitive decline.

Lower activity related to cognitive decline

A decrease in the duration of daily activity of more than 60 min per day over 10 years follow-up was associated with an almost 3-fold greater cognitive decline compared to those who maintained their regular activity. A decrease in average intensity of exercise of a half standard deviation was associated with almost a 4 times greater cognitive decline in elderly men from The Netherlands and Italy. [glossary_exclude]

Change in intensity of exercise and cognitive decline

APOE4 modifies the relation of physical activity with cognitive decline

In elderly men from Zutphen, a low (<1 hour/day) compared to a high (>1 hour/day) duration of physical activity was associated with a 2-fold greater cognitive decline. This decline was twice as great in APOE4 carriers.


Four lifestyle factors combined and cardiovascular disease

A healthful diet and lifestyle is related to low CVD risk

A Mediterranean style diet, a high level of physical activity, not smoking and moderate alcohol consumption were all associated with low 10-year risk of CHD and CVD in the European HALE project. A very low risk of these diseases was observed in elderly men who had four compared to those who had none or one healthful diet and lifestyle factor. We estimate that among elderly men who did not adhere to a low-risk lifestyle pattern, 64% of deaths due to CHD and 61% due to CVD might have been prevented based on the observed risk differences.


Among elderly men, the more healthful factors of diet and lifestyle the lower the CVD mortality observed. More than 60% of CVD mortality was associated with lack of adherence to the low-risk pattern. This finding implies that even at advanced ages those who follow a Mediterranean style diet and maintain a healthful lifestyle are less likely to die from CVD.


Physical activity and disability

Physical activity relates to lower risk of disability

Elderly European men with a high level of physical activity at entry had a 54% lower risk of subsequent disability compared to men with a low activity level. This was related to the length of time the physical activities were caried out and not to their intensity.

The results suggest that even in old age among relatively healthy men, a physically active lifestyle protects against disability and the duration of such activities appeared more important than their intensity.

Measuring physical activity and disability

Different aspects of physical activity and disability were investigated in the FINE study of elderly men from Finland, Italy and The Netherlands, with 10 years of follow-up. Information on self-reported physical activity was based on a validated questionnaire on activities such as walking, biking and gardening. Self-reported disabilities were evaluated with the WHO-questionnaire on Activities of Daily Living.


Lifestyle factors and depressive symptoms

Moderate physical activity inversely associated with depression


Physical activity and depressive symptoms
At least mild physical activities (2 kcal/kg/hour, so f.i. for a 70 kg person that would be 140 kcal/hour) were inversely related to depressive symptoms in the baseline survey of the Finland, Italy, Netherlands Elderly study. One unit of moderate physical activity (30 min per day of walking, cycling, gardening and sports) at baseline was associated with a 3% lower risk of depressive symptoms 5 years later.

Moderate alcohol intake inversely related to depression but not to smoking

Moderate alcohol intake (less than 31 gram per day, equal to 3 glasses/d) entry was related to a 65% lower risk of depressive symptoms 5 years later, but the prevalence of smoking did not predict depressive symptoms.


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Studies in the elderly

The Zutphen Elderly, HALE and FINE studies researched the indicators of healthy ageing.

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Physical activity and all-cause mortality

Activity inversely related to all-cause mortality

Elderly men in Zutphen with a high level of leasure physical activity (mean 1217 min/week) had a 23% lower all-cause mortality after 10 years of follow-up compared to those with a low level (mean 122 min/week). Men who walked or cycled at least 3 times per week for 20 min or more per day were called active and those who did not meet the criterion were considered sedentary. All-cause mortality was 29% lower in the active compared to the sedentary men.

Reducing activity was associated with greater all-cause mortality


Physical activity and all-cause mortality

Changes in physical activity over the period of study were also related to all-cause mortality rate. Men who were sedentary in both 1985 and 1990 surveys had a 2 times greater risk of death from all-causes by 1995 compared to those who were classed as active in both surveys. A gradient of decreasing risk of death was observed among those who became active compared to those who became or remained sedentary.

Measuring physical activity

In the Zutphen Elderly Study physical activity was assessed with a questionnaire among these retired men, which queried about frequency and duration of walking, cycling, sports, gardening, hobbies and odd jobs. The questionnaire was validated against measures of total energy expenditure.


Physical activity and cardiovascular disease

Job-related activity associated with lower CHD risk

When the Seven Countries Study started in the 1960s, the emphasis in the lifestyle factor of physical activity was on occupation, that is, on job-related physical activity. The men were classified in three categories: sedentary, moderately active and very active. An analysis using data from 12 of the 16 cohorts showed that sedentary men compared to moderately active men had a 21% lower risk of 20-year CHD mortality. A 38% lower CHD mortality was observed comparing those with heavy activity jobs to sedentary men.

More active leisure time related to lower CVD risk

In the US railroad cohort leisure-time activity was measured by detailed questionnaire. Men who spent more than 2000 kcal/week on leisure-time physical activity had a 29% lower 20-year CHD mortality compared men who expended less than 250 kcal/week exercising.

In the elderly men in Zutphen, walking or cycling at least three times per week for 20 minutes (the recommended level of physical activity for the elderly) was associated with a 34% lower 10-year cardiovascular mortality compared to more sedentary men.