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Cognitive ability does not predict objectively measured sedentary behaviour: Evidence from three older cohorts

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-296
JournalPsychology and Aging
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2018


Higher cognitive ability is associated with being more physically active. However, much less is known about the associations between cognitive ability and sedentary behaviour. Ours is the first study to examine whether historic and contemporaneous cognitive ability predicts objectively measured sedentary behaviour in older age. Participants were drawn from three cohorts (Lothian Birth Cohort 1936, n = 271; and two West of Scotland Twenty-07 cohorts: 1950s, n = 310 and 1930s, n = 119). Regression models were used to assess the associations between a range of cognitive tests measured at different points in the life-course with sedentary behaviour in older age recorded over seven days. Prior simple reaction time was significantly related to later sedentary time in the youngest, Twenty-07 1950s cohort (p = .04). The relationship was non-significant after controlling for long-standing illness or employment status, or after correcting for multiple comparisons in the initial model. None of the cognitive measures was related to sedentary behaviour in either of the two older cohorts (LBC1936, Twenty-07 1930s). There was no association between any of the cognitive tests and the number of sit-to-stand transitions in any of the three cohorts. The meta-analytic estimates for the measures of simple and choice reaction time that were identical in all three cohorts (n = 700) were also not significant. In conclusion, we found no evidence that objectively measured sedentary time in older adults is associated with measures of cognitive ability at different time points in life, including cognitive change from childhood to older age.

    Research areas

  • sedentary behaviour, cognitive ability, intelligence, activPal, objective measures, older adults

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