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Introduction: The increase in the population of 60 years and above has led to an increase in dementia. Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) has one of the highest prevalence of dementia. One of the factors revealing promising results in reducing the burden of dementia, yet not researched in MENA and in other parts of the world, is physical activity.
Objective: We aimed to assess the association between subjective and objective physical activity, and memory recall of older adults with no dementia in Lebanon. We also investigated the moderating effect of sex and place of residence on this association.
Methods: This is a secondary data analysis of a cross-sectional study conducted in 2013 on a community of 502 older adults 65 years of age and above, selected randomly from two areas, Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, and Mount Lebanon. After excluding those who had dementia diagnoses and who did not have data on physical activity, the eligible sample was 459 persons. Physical activity was assessed by three indicators: physical activity perception, walking half a kilometer, and 2-minute step test (2MST). Memory recall, defined as episodic memory, was measured using a 10-word list-learning test with two outcomes: immediate and delayed. Regression models were performed adjusting for cluster effect. Additionally, associations between main exposures and memory recall were stratified by sex and rural/urban residence at the univariate and multivariate levels.
Results: The findings of this study revealed that the three measures of physical activity were significantly associated with higher memory function, at a significance level of 0.05. The data demonstrated that sex and place of residence did not modify the association between physical activity measures and immediate and delayed memory recall.
Conclusion: Physical activity of older adults should be promoted for a variety of health reasons including improvement of memory recall. Further research is needed to determine the long-term impact on the relationship between physical activity and episodic memory.
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