Comparisons between young and older women runners and sedentary controls were examined on simple and choice reaction time tasks involving elbow flexion and extension. Reaction time was fractionated into premotor and contractile components using electromyography. Young runners were significantly faster and the older controls were significantly slower than all other groups on all reaction time tasks. The older runners were not significantly different from the young controls in any of the reaction time tasks, thus indicating that a history of running may eliminate or retard the slowing of reaction time that normally accompanies aging. All four groups had similar contractile times, indicating that the differences in reaction time were attributed to central processing in the premotor component of reaction time.
P.G. MacRae, C. Morris, K. Crum, and J.A. Ugolini are with the Department of Sports Medicine, Pepperdine University, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90263. C.Y. Lee is with the Department of Psychology, Pepperdine University. D. Giessman is with Giessman and Associates, 148 Ray St., Suite A, Pleasanton, CA 94566. J.S. Greene is with Greene and Associates, 18455 Burbank Blvd., Suite 404, Tarzana, CA 91356.