International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

A Comparative Study of Physical Activity and Cognitive Function of a Sample of Elderly Nigerians Living In a Rural and an Urban Area
Eucharia O. Ejechi

The study was undertaken to ascertain the difference in physical activity and cognitive function between elderly (65-75 years) rural and urban-dwelling people using structured questionnaire and discussions. The activity domains measured were work, housework, sports and volunteer work. Cognitive function was assessed by the six-item screener method and self-rated memory. Rural-based elders had significantly higher physical activity score (median=41.6 vs. 35.5, P=0.04, Mann-Whitney U test) than the urban-dwelling elders socio-demographic variables (gender, age, education and income) notwithstanding. There was no significant difference in cognitive function by overall assessment, but rural elders aged 71-75 or lowly educated (=secondary), had significantly higher cognitive function (P= 0.000/0.02) Rural elders reported significantly lesser physical pains (median=4.0 vs. 6.5, P=0.02). Significant physical activity/cognitive function (rural/urban: rs=0.48/0.42; P=0.005/0.01) and physical activity/physical pain (rural/urban: rs=-0.49/-0.47; P=0.005/0.015) relationships occurred, but was stronger with rural elders as indicated by the rs and P values. It can be concluded that the higher performance of the rural elders is attributable to regular intense working exercises such as farming, fishing and hunting. The need for some form of intense physical activity for the aged is therefore, indicated.

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