Cognition and mobility show a global association in middle- and late-adulthood: Analyses from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging



Given our aging population, there’s great interest in identifying modifiable risk factors for cognitive decline. Studies have highlighted the relationship between aspects of mobility and cognitive processes. However, cognition and mobility are both multifaceted concepts and their interrelationships remain to be well defined.

Research question

Here, we firstly aimed to replicate cross-sectional associations between objective measures of mobility and cognition. Second, we tested whether these associations remained after the consideration of multiple age-related confounders. Finally, to test the hypothesis that the association between mobility and cognition is stronger in older adults, we examined the moderating effect of age in the association between mobility and cognition.


In the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, 28,808 community-dwelling adults (aged 45–87; 51% female) completed mobility (gait, balance and chair stands) and cognitive (memory, executive function and processing speed) assessments. General linear models were used to examine mobility-cognition relationships and the moderating effect of age.


Cognitive measures were significantly associated with mobility measures (all p < 0.001). Further, age significantly moderated the mobility-cognition relationship, with the strength of the associations generally increasing with age.


All cognitive measures were related to indices of mobility, suggesting a global association. In our moderation analyses, the mobility-cognition relationship often increased with age. However, the small effect sizes observed suggest that mobility is, in isolation, not a strong correlate of cognitive performance in middle and late-adulthood.