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Enhancing cognitive functioning in the elderly: multicomponent vs resistance training

Authors Forte R, Boreham C, Leite J, De Vito G, Brennan L, Gibney E, Pesce C

Received 30 July 2012

Accepted for publication 15 September 2012

Published 10 January 2013 Volume 2013:8 Pages 19—27


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Roberta Forte,1,2 Colin AG Boreham,1 Joao Costa Leite,3 Giuseppe De Vito,1 Lorraine Brennan,3 Eileen R Gibney,3 Caterina Pesce2

1Institute for Sport and Health, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland; 2Department of Human Movement and Sport Science, University of Rome "Foro Italico," Rome, Italy; 3Institute of Food and Health, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

Purpose: The primary purpose of this study was to compare the effects of two different exercise training programs on executive cognitive functions and functional mobility in older adults. A secondary purpose was to explore the potential mediators of training effects on executive function and functional mobility with particular reference to physical fitness gains.
Methods: A sample of 42 healthy community dwelling adults aged 65 to 75 years participated twice weekly for 3 months in either: (1) multicomponent training, prioritizing neuromuscular coordination, balance, agility, and cognitive executive control; or (2) progressive resistance training for strength conditioning. Participants were tested at baseline (T1), following a 4-week control period (T2), and finally at postintervention (T3) for executive function (inhibition and cognitive flexibility) and functional mobility (maximal walking speed with and without additional task requirements). Cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness were also assessed as potential mediators.
Results: Indices of inhibition, the functions involved in the deliberate withholding of prepotent or automatic responses, and measures of functional mobility improved after the intervention, independent of training type. Mediation analysis suggested that different mechanisms underlie the effects of multicomponent and progressive resistance training. While multicomponent training seemed to directly affect inhibitory capacity, resistance training seemed to affect it indirectly through gains in muscular strength. Physical fitness and executive function variables did not mediate functional mobility changes.
Conclusion: These results confirm that physical training benefits executive function and suggest that different training types might lead to such benefits through different pathways. Both types of training also promoted functional mobility in older adulthood; however, neither inhibitory capacity, nor muscular strength gains seemed to explain functional mobility outcomes.

Keywords: executive function, functional mobility, physical training, physical fitness, aging

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