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Keywords:

  • aging;
  • motor decline;
  • motor performance;
  • muscle strength;
  • physical activity

Abstract

We tested the hypothesis that physical activity modifies the course of age-related motor decline. More than 850 older participants of the Rush Memory and Aging Project underwent baseline assessment of physical activity and annual motor testing for up to 8 years. Nine strength measures and nine motor performance measures were summarized into composite measures of motor function. In generalized estimating equation models, global motor function declined during follow-up (estimate, −0.072; SE, 0.008; P < 0.001). Each additional hour of physical activity at baseline was associated with about a 5% decrease in the rate of global motor function decline (estimate, 0.004; SE, 0.001; P = 0.007). Secondary analyses suggested that the association of physical activity with motor decline was mostly due to the effect of physical activity on the rate of motor performance decline. Thus, higher levels of physical activity are associated with a slower rate of motor decline in older persons. Muscle Nerve, 2006