We assessed the association between physical activity (PA) patterns and cognitive health. Using the 2011–2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data among older adults (≥60 years), we defined scoring below the 25th percentile in the average z-scores from 3 cognitive tests as having low cognitive performance. We used latent class analysis to categorize PA patterns and examined their association with cognitive performance using logistic regressions while adjusting for relevant covariates. We identified three PA groups: inactive (50.2%), moderate intensity leisure (34.5%), and high intensity multiple activities (15.3%). Compared to the inactive group, the moderate intensity leisure and high intensity multiple activities groups were less likely to have low cognitive performance (adjusted proportion ratio.85; 95% CI:.75,.94; and.76; 95% CI:.57,.96). The results highlight the need for improving cognitive health of a large proportion of physically inactive older adults by promoting multiple types of PA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-418
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Gerontology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • cognitive function
  • cognitive performance
  • dementia
  • exercise
  • health promotion
  • latent class analysis
  • older adults
  • physical activity


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