A healthy lifestyle in old age and prospective change in four domains of functioning

Marjolein Visser, H.A.H. Wijnhoven, Hannie C. Comijs, Fleur Thomese, J.W.R. Twisk, Dorly J.H. Deeg

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Objective: The aim of this article is to study the associations between healthy lifestyle in old age and decline in physical, psychological, cognitive, and social functioning. Method: A population-based sample of 3,107 Dutch men and women aged 55 and 85 years (1992/1993; Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam) was used with five 3-yeary follow-up examinations. Lifestyle score, based on smoking status, alcohol consumption, physical activity, and body mass index (BMI), ranged from 0 (unhealthy) to 4 (healthy). Outcomes included gait speed, depressive symptoms, cognitive status, and social contacts. Results: Persons with a healthy lifestyle had a 10.6% slower decline in gait speed (0.04 m/s, 95% confidence interval [CI] = [0.03, 0.05]), 10.8% slower increase in depressive symptoms (–1.07 [–1.70, –0.44]), a 1.8% slower decline in cognitive functioning (0.47 [0.23, 0.70]), and a 4.9% slower decline in social contacts (0.58 [0.01, 1.15]) compared with persons with no or one healthy lifestyle factor. Discussion: A healthy lifestyle benefits physical, psychological, cognitive, and social functioning up to very old age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1297-1314
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of aging and health
Issue number7
Early online date29 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • cognitive functioning
  • older adults
  • physical functioning
  • psychological functioning
  • social functioning

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