Research Study Abstract

Changes in Moderate Intensity Physical Activity Are Associated With Better Cognition in the Multilevel Intervention for Physical Activity in Retirement Communities (MIPARC) Study

  • Published on April 29, 2019

The authors investigated if the physical activity increases observed in the Multilevel Intervention for Physical Activity in Retirement Communities (MIPARC) improved cognitive functions in older adults. The authors also examined if within-person changes in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), as opposed to low-light and high-light physical activity, were related to cognitive improvements in the entire sample.

This was a cluster randomized control trial set in retirement communities in San Diego County, CA. A total of 307 older adults without a formal diagnosis of dementia (mean age: 83 years; age range: 67–100; standard deviation: 6.4 years; 72% women) were assigned to the physical activity (N = 151) or healthy education control (N = 156) groups. Interventions were led by study staff for the first 6 months and sustained by peer leaders for the next 6 months. Components included individual counseling and self-monitoring with pedometers, group education sessions, and printed materials. Measurements occurred at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months. Triaxial accelerometers measured physical activity for 1 week. The Trail Making Test (TMT) Parts A and B and a Symbol Search Test measured cognitive functions.

There were no significant differences in cognitive functions between the MIPARC intervention and control groups at 6 or 12 months. Within-person increases in MVPA, and not low-light or high-light physical activity, were associated with improvements in TMT Parts B, B-A, and Symbol Search scores in the entire sample.

Findings suggest that MVPA may have a stronger impact on cognitive functions than lower intensity physical activity within retirement community samples of highly educated older adults without dementia.


  • Zvinka Z. Zlatar Ph.D. 1
  • Suneeta Godbole M.P.H. 2
  • Michelle Takemoto Ph.D. 2
  • Katie Crist M.P.H. 2
  • Cynthia M. Castro Sweet Ph.D. 3
  • Jacqueline Kerr Ph.D., M.S.b 2
  • Dori E. Rosenberg Ph.D., M.P.H. 4


  • 1

    Department of Psychiatry (ZZZ), University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA

  • 2

    Department of Family Medicine and Public Health (SG, MT, KC, JK), University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA

  • 3

    Medical Affairs (CMCS), Omada Health, Inc., San Francisco

  • 4

    Group Health Research Institute (DER), Seattle


The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry


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