Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) represents a transition between normal cognitive aging and dementia and may represent a critical time frame for promoting cognitive health through behavioral strategies. Current evidence suggests that physical activity (PA) and sedentary behavior are important for cognition. However, it is unclear whether there are differences in PA and sedentary behavior between people with probable MCI and people without MCI or whether the relationships of PA and sedentary behavior with cognitive function differ by MCI status.
The aims of this study were to examine differences in PA and sedentary behavior between people with probable MCI and people without MCI and whether associations of PA and sedentary behavior with cognitive function differed by MCI status.
This was a cross-sectional study.
Physical activity and sedentary behavior in adults dwelling in the community (N = 151; at least 55 years old) were measured using a wrist-worn actigraphy unit. The Montreal Cognitive Assessment was used to categorize participants with probable MCI (scores of <26/30) and participants without MCI (scores of ≥26/30). Cognitive function was indexed using the Alzheimer Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive-Plus (ADAS-Cog Plus). Physical activity and sedentary behavior were compared based on probable MCI status, and relationships of ADAS-Cog Plus with PA and sedentary behavior were examined by probable MCI status.
Participants with probable MCI (n = 82) had lower PA and higher sedentary behavior than participants without MCI (n = 69). Higher PA and lower sedentary behavior were associated with better ADAS-Cog Plus performance in participants without MCI (β = −.022 and β = .012, respectively) but not in participants with probable MCI (β < .001 for both).
This study was cross-sectional and therefore could not establish whether conversion to MCI attenuated the relationships of PA and sedentary behavior with cognitive function. The diagnosis of MCI was not confirmed with a physician; therefore, this study could not conclude how many of the participants categorized as having probable MCI would actually have been diagnosed with MCI by a physician.
Participants with probable MCI were less active and more sedentary. The relationships of these behaviors with cognitive function differed by MCI status; associations were found only in participants without MCI.