Many experts stress the importance of physical activity in maintaining good cognitive health. And although being more physically active can have a variety of benefits for major health conditions, a new study from the University of Cambridge found that office or administrative-based jobs might be linked to a lower risk of poor cognition by late-adulthood.
The study, publicized in the International Journal of Epidemiology, reached that conclusion by examining patterns of physical activity among more than 8,000 participants of both genders, in mid to late-adulthood: age 40-79. The participants were part of a diverse range of socioeconomic and educational backgrounds.
Aside from physical fitness, which was examined at the start of the study, researchers also administered health and lifestyle questionnaires during both in the workplace and off-time. The questionnaires included physical activity and were given in conjunction with a series of other tests measuring cognition.
“Cognitive testing was conducted between 2006-2011 (including pilot phase 2004-2006),” the co-authors wrote in their findings. “Associations were examined using multinomial logistic regression adjusting for socio-demographic and health variables as well total habitual physical activity.”
According to the findings, physical activity during leisure may offer protection against cognitive deterioration, however, physical activity during work may not yield similar results. In fact, the paradoxical findings were evident in the participants examined.
“Our analysis shows that the relationship between physical activity and cognitive is not straightforward,” the co-authors implied in a news release.
“While regular physical activity has considerable benefits for protection against many chronic diseases, other factors may influence its effect on future poor cognition.”
“The relationship between inactivity and cognition is strongly confounded by education, social class and occupation. A greater understanding of the mechanisms and confounding underlying these paradoxical findings is needed,” the co-authors concluded in their findings.