Hostname: page-component-797576ffbb-58z7q Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-12-09T19:10:10.576Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

Lifestyle Activities and Memory: Variety May Be the Spice of Life. The Women's Health and Aging Study II

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 December 2011

Michelle C. Carlson*
Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland Center on Aging and Health, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland
Jeanine M. Parisi
Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland
Jin Xia
Center on Aging and Health, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland Division of Geriatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
Qian-Li Xue
Center on Aging and Health, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland Division of Geriatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
George W. Rebok
Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland Center on Aging and Health, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland
Karen Bandeen-Roche
Center on Aging and Health, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland Department of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, Center on Aging and Health
Linda P. Fried
Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, New York
Correspondence and reprint requests to: Michelle C. Carlson, Department of Mental Health, Center on Aging and Health, The Johns Hopkins University, 2024 E. Monument Street, Suite 2-700, Baltimore, MD 21205. E-mail:


This study examined whether participation in a variety of lifestyle activities was comparable to frequent participation in cognitively challenging activities in mitigating impairments in cognitive abilities susceptible to aging in healthy, community-dwelling older women. Frequencies of participation in various lifestyle activities on the Lifestyle Activities Questionnaire (LAQ) were divided according to high (e.g., reading), moderate (e.g., discussing politics), and low (e.g., watching television) cognitive demand. We also considered the utility of participation in a variety of lifestyle activities regardless of cognitive challenge. Immediate and delayed verbal recall, psychomotor speed, and executive function were each measured at baseline and at five successive exams, spanning a 9.5-year interval. Greater variety of participation in activities, regardless of cognitive challenge, was associated with an 8 to 11% reduction in the risk of impairment in verbal memory and global cognitive outcomes. Participation in a variety of lifestyle activities was more predictive than frequency or level of cognitive challenge for significant reductions in risk of incident impairment on measures sensitive to cognitive aging and risk for dementia. Our findings offer new perspectives in promoting a diverse repertoire of activities to mitigate age-related cognitive declines. (JINS, 2012, 18, 286–294)

Research Articles
Copyright © The International Neuropsychological Society 2011

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Aartsen, M.J., Smits, C.H., van Tilberg, T., Knipscheer, K.C., Deeg, D.J. (2002). Activity in older adults: Cause or consequence of cognitive functioning? A longitudinal study of everyday activities and cognitive performance in older adults. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 57, P153P162.Google Scholar
Arbuckle, T.Y., Maag, U., Pushkar, D., Chaikelson, J. (1998). Individual differences in trajectory of intellectual development over 45 years of adulthood. Psychology & Aging, 13, 663675.Google Scholar
Arbuckle, T.Y., Pushkar Gold, D., Chaikelson, J.S., Lapidus, S. (1994). Measurement of activity in the elderly: The activities checklist. Canadian Journal on Aging, 13, 550565.Google Scholar
Baltes, P.B., Lindenberger, U., Staudinger, U.M. (1997). Life-span theory in developmental psychology. In R.M. Lerner (Ed.), Theoretical models of human development. Handbook of child psychology (5th ed.). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
Baltes, P.B., Willis, S.L. (1982). Plasticity and enhancement of intellectual functioning in old age: Penn State's Adult Development and Enrichment Project (ADEPT). In F.I.M. Craik, & S. Trehub (Eds.), Aging and cognitive processes. New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
Benedict, R.H.B., Schretlen, D., Groninger, L., Brandt, J. (1998). Hopkins Verbal Learning Test-Revised: Normative data and analysis of inter-form and test-retest reliability. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 12, 4355.Google Scholar
Brandt, J. (1991). The Hopkins Verbal Learning Test: Development of a new memory test with six equivalent forms. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 5, 125142.Google Scholar
Carlson, M.C., Erickson, K.I., Kramer, A.F., Voss, M.W., Bolea, N., Mielke, M., Fried, L.P. (2009). Evidence for neurocognitive plasticity in at-risk older adults: The Experience Corps program. The Journals of Gerontology: Biological and Medical Sciences, 64, 12751282.Google Scholar
Carlson, M.C., Fried, L.P., Xue, Q.-L., Zeger, S., Brandt, J. (1999). Association between executive attention and physical functional performance in community-dwelling older women. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological and Social Sciences, 54, 262270.Google Scholar
Carlson, M.C., Saczynski, J.S., Rebok, G.W., Seeman, T., Glass, T.A., McGill, S., Fried, L.P. (2008). Exploring the effects of an “everyday” activity program on executive function and memory in older adults: Experience Corps. The Gerontologist, 48, 793801.Google Scholar
Colcombe, S.J., Kramer, A.F., Erickson, K.I., Scalf, P., McAuley, E., Cohen, N.J., Elavsky, S. (2004). Cardiovascular fitness, cortical plasticity, and aging. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 101, 33163321.Google Scholar
Crowe, M., Andel, R., Pedersen, N.L., Johansson, B., Gatz, M. (2003). Does participation in leisure activities lead to reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease? A prospective study of Swedish twins. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Review, 58, 249255.Google Scholar
Folstein, M.F., Folstein, S.E., McHugh, P.R. (1975). Mini-Mental State: A practical method for grading the cognitive state of patients for the clinician. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 12, 189198.Google Scholar
Fried, L.P., Bandeen-Roche, K., Chaves, P.H., Johnson, B.A. (2000). Preclinical mobility disability predicts incident mobility disability in older women. Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, 55, 4352.Google Scholar
Fried, L.P., Kasper, J.D., Guralnik, J.M., Simonsick, E.M. (1995). The Women's Health and Aging Study: An introduction. In J.M. Guralnik, L.P. Fried, E.M. Simonsick, J.D. Kasper, & M.E. Lafferty (Eds.), The Women's Health and Aging Study: Health and social characteristics of older women with disability. Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Aging, NIH Pub. No. 95-4009.Google Scholar
Friedland, R.P., Fritsch, T., Smyth, K.A., Koss, E., Lerner, A.J., Hsiun, C., Debannes, S.M. (2001). Patients with Alzheimer's disease have reduced activities in midlife compared with healthy control-group members. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 98, 34403445.Google Scholar
Gould, E., Beylin, A., Tanapat, P., Reeves, A., Shors, T.J. (1999). Learning enhances adult neurogenesis in the hippocampal formation. Nature Neuroscience, 2, 260265.Google Scholar
Greenough, W.T., Cohen, N.J., Juraska, J.M. (1999). New neurons in old brains: Learning to survive? Nature Neuroscience, 2, 203205.Google Scholar
Gribbin, K., Schaie, K.W., Parham, I.A. (1980). Complexity of life style and maintenance of intellectual abilities. Journal of Social Issues, 36, 4761.Google Scholar
Hambrick, D.Z., Salthouse, T.A., Meinz, E.J. (1999). Predictors of crossword puzzle proficiency and moderators of age-cognition relations. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 128, 131164.Google Scholar
Herzog, A.R., Franks, M.M., Markus, H.R., Holmberg, D. (1998). Activities and well-being in old age: Effects of self-concept and educational attainment. Psychology and Aging, 13, 179185.Google Scholar
Herzog, A.R., House, J.S., Morgan, J.N. (1991). Relation of work and retirement to health and well-being in older age. Psychology and Aging, 6, 202211.Google Scholar
Hultsch, D.F., Hammer, M., Small, B.J. (1993). Age differences in cognitive performance in later life: Relationships to self-reported health and activity life style. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 48, 111.Google Scholar
Hultsch, D.F., Hertzog, C., Small, B.J., Dixon, R.A. (1999). Use it or lose it: Engaged lifestyle as a buffer of cognitive decline in aging? Psychology and Aging, 14, 245263.Google Scholar
Ivnik, R.J., Malec, J.F., Smith, G.E., Tangalos, E.G., Petersen, R.C. (1996). Neuropsychological tests’ norms above age 55: COWAT, BNT, MAE Token, WRAT-R Reading, AMNART, Stroop, TMT, and JLO. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 10, 262278.Google Scholar
Jobe, J.B., Smith, D.M., Ball, K., Tennstedt, S.L., Marsiske, M., Willis, S.L., Kleinman, K. (2001). ACTIVE: A cognitive intervention trial to promote independence in older adults. Controlled Clinical Trials, 22, 453479.Google Scholar
Karp, A., Paillard-Borg, S., Wang, H.X., Silverstein, M., Winblad, B., Fratiglioni, L. (2006). Mental, physical, and social components in leisure activities equally contribute to decrease dementia risk. Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders, 21, 6573.Google Scholar
Lennartsson, C., Silverstein, J. (2001). Does engagement with life enhance survival of elderly people in Sweden? The role of social and leisure activities. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 56B, 335342.Google Scholar
Mackinnon, A., Christensen, H., Hofer, S.M., Korten, A.E., Jorm, A.F. (2003). Use it and still lose it? The association between activity and cognitive performance established using latent growth techniques in a community sample. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 10, 215229.Google Scholar
Mobily, K.E., Lemke, J.H., Gisin, G.J. (1991). The idea of leisure repertoire. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 10, 208223.Google Scholar
Newson, R.S., Kemps, E.B. (2006). The influence of physical and cognitive activities on simple and complex cognitive tasks in older adults. Experimental Aging Research, 32, 341362.Google Scholar
Parisi, J.M. (2007). Determinants and effects of engagement in adulthood. Dissertations Abstracts International, 69B, 155 (Publication No. AAT 3301209).Google Scholar
Pillai, J.A., Hall, C.B., Dickson, D.W., Buschke, H., Lipton, R.B., Verghese, J. (2011). Association of crossword puzzle participation with memory decline in persons who develop dementia. Journal of the International Psychological Society, 17(6), 10061013.Google Scholar
Podewils, L.J., Guallar, E., Kuller, L.H., Fried, L.P., Lopez, O.L., Carlson, M.C., Lyketsos, C.C. (2005). Physical activity, APOE genotype, and dementia risk: Findings from the Cardiovascular Health Cognition Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 161, 639651.Google Scholar
Pushkar, D., Etezadi, J., Andres, D., Arbuckle, T., Schwartzman, A.E., Chaikelson, J. (1999). Models of intelligence in late life: Comment on Hultsch et al. Psychology and Aging, 14, 528534.Google Scholar
Pushkar-Gold, D., Arbuckle, T., Conway, M., Chaikelson, J., Maag, U. (1997). Everyday activity parameters and competence in older adults. Psychology and Aging, 12, 600609.Google Scholar
Reitan, R.M. (1958). The validity of the Trail Making Test as an indicator of organic brain damage. Perception and Motor Skills, 8, 271276.Google Scholar
Salthouse, T.A., Berish, D.E., Miles, J.D. (2002). The role of cognitive stimulation on the relations between age and cognitive functioning. Psychology and Aging, 17, 548557.Google Scholar
Scarmeas, N., Levy, G., Tang, M.-X., Manly, J., Stern, Y. (2001). Influence of leisure activity on the incidence of Alzheimer's disease. Neurology, 57, 22362242.Google Scholar
Schinka, J.A., McBride, A., Vanderploeg, R.D., Tennyson, K., Borenstein, A.R., Mortimer, J.A. (2005). Florida Cognitive Activities Scale: Initial development and validation. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 11, 108116.Google Scholar
Schooler, C., Mulatu, M. (2001). The reciprocal effects of leisure time activities and intellectual functioning in older people: A longitudinal analysis. Psychology and Aging, 16, 466482.Google Scholar
Schooler, C., Mulatu, M.S., Oates, G. (1999). The continuing effects of substantively complex work on the intellectual functioning of older workers. Psychology and Aging, 14, 483506.Google Scholar
Smyke, P. (1991). Women and health. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
Spreen, O., Strauss, E. (1998). A compendium of neuropsychological tests: Administration, norms, and commentary. NY: Oxford.Google Scholar
Staudinger, U.M., Marsiske, M., Baltes, P.B. (1995). Resilience and reserve capacity in later adulthood: Perspectives from life-span theory. Development and Psychopathology, 5, 541566.Google Scholar
Stern, Y., Albert, S., Tang, M.-X., Tsai, W.-Y. (1999). Rate of memory decline in Alzheimer's disease is related to education and occupation: Cognitive reserve?. Neurology, 53, 19421947.Google Scholar
US Department of Health and Human Services. (2008). Report of the Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee. Washington DC: US Department of Health and Human Services.Google Scholar
van Praag, H., Kempermann, G., Gage, F.H. (1999). Running increases cell proliferation and neurogenesis in the adult mouse dentate gyrus. Nature Neuroscience, 2, 266270.Google Scholar
Verhaeghen, P., Marcoen, A., Goossens, L. (1992). Improving memory performance in the aged through mnemonic training: A meta-analytic study. Psychology and Aging, 7, 242251.Google Scholar
Wang, H.-X., Karp, A., Winblad, B., Fratiglioni, L. (2002). Late-life engagement in social and leisure activities is associated with a decreased risk of dementia: A longitudinal study from the Kungsholmen Project. American Journal of Epidemiology, 155, 10811087.Google Scholar
Wilson, R.S., Bennett, D.A. (2003). Cognitive activity and risk of Alzheimer's Disease. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12, 8791.Google Scholar
Wilson, R.S., Bennett, D.A., Beckett, L.A., Morris, M.C., Gilley, D.W., Bienias, J.L., Evans, D. (1999). Cognitive activity in older persons from a geographically defined population. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 54, 155160.Google Scholar
Wilson, R.S., Mendes de Leon, C.F., Barnes, L.L., Schreider, J.A., Bienias, J.L., Evans, D.A., Bennett, D.A. (2002). Participation in cognitively stimulating activities and risk of incident Alzheimer's disease. Journal of the American Medical Association, 287, 742748.Google Scholar