Background: Growing evidence suggests that participation in late-life leisure activity may have beneficial effects on cognitive function. The objective of the study was to evaluate the association between leisure activity participation and cognitive function in an elderly population of community-dwelling Hong Kong Chinese.
Methods: 512 participants were assessed in the follow-up study of a population-based community survey of the prevalence of cognitive impairment among Hong Kong Chinese aged 60 years and over. Leisure activities were classified into four categories (physical, intellectual, social and recreational). Information regarding leisure activity participation, cognitive function and other variables was collected. Multivariate linear regression analyses were performed to examine the association between leisure activity participation and cognitive function.
Results: A higher level of late-life leisure activity participation, particularly in intellectual activities, was significantly associated with better cognitive function in the elderly, as reflected by the results of the Cantonese Mini-mental State Examination (p = 0.007, 0.029 and 0.005), the Category Verbal Fluency Test (p = 0.027, 0.003 and 0.005) and digit backward span (p = 0.031, 0.002 and 0.009), as measured by the total frequency, total hours per week and total number of subtypes, respectively; the Chinese Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale (p = 0.045) and word list learning (p = 0.003), as measured by the total number of subtypes; and digit forward span (p = 0.007 and 0.015), as measured by the total hours per week and total number of subtypes, respectively.
Conclusion: Late-life intellectual activity participation was associated with better cognitive function among community-dwelling Hong Kong elderly Chinese.