Engagement in Pleasant Leisure Activities and Blood Pressure: A 5-Year Longitudinal Study in Alzheimer’s Caregivers

2017 May 31. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000497. [Epub ahead of print]

Engagement in pleasant leisure activities and blood pressure: A 5-year longitudinal study in Alzheimer’s caregivers.

Mausbach BT1, Romero-Moreno R, Bos T, von Känel R, Ziegler MG, Allison MA, Mills PJ, Dimsdale JE, Ancoli-Israel S, Losada A, Márquez-González M, Patterson TL, Grant I.



Elevated blood pressure is a significant public health concern, particularly given its association with cardiovascular disease risk, including stroke. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease has been associated with physical health morbidity, including higher blood pressure. Engagement in adaptive coping strategies may help prevent blood pressure elevation in this population. This 5-year longitudinal study examined whether greater participation in pleasant leisure activities was associated with reduced blood pressure in caregivers.


Participants were 126 in-home spousal Alzheimer caregivers (mean age = 74.2 ± 7.9 years) that completed five yearly assessments. Linear mixed effects models analysis was used to examine the longitudinal relationship between pleasant leisure activities and caregiversblood pressure, after adjusting for demographic and health characteristics.


Greater engagement in pleasant leisure activities was associated with reduced mean arterial blood pressure (MAP; B = -0.08, SE = 0.04, p = 0.040). Follow-up analyses indicated engagement in activities was significantly associated with reduced diastolic (B = -0.07, SE = 0.03, p = 0.030) but not systolic blood pressure (B = -0.10, SE = 0.06, p = 0.114). In addition, MAP was significantly reduced when caregiving duties ended because of placement of care recipients in nursing homes (B = -3.10, SE = 1.11, p = 0.005) or death of the care-recipient (B = -2.64, SE = 1.14, p = 0.021).


Greater engagement in pleasant leisure activities was associated with lowered caregiversblood pressure over time. Participation in pleasant leisure activities may have cardiovascular health benefits for Alzheimer’s caregivers.