The Acute Effects of Different Exercise Intensities on Associative Novel Word Learning in Healthy Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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Recent studies show positive effects of acute exercise on language learning in young adults with lower baseline learning abilities; however, this is yet to be investigated in older adults. This study investigated the acute effects of different exercise intensities on new word learning in healthy older adults with lower and higher baseline learning abilities. Sixty older adults (mean age = 66.4 (4.6); 43 females) performed either a single bout of stretching exercise, moderate-intensity continuous exercise, or high-intensity interval exercise followed by a word learning task. In lower baseline learners, between-group differences were observed on immediate new word recall success, with the moderate-intensity continuous exercise group performing better than the stretching group. These findings suggest immediate benefits of moderate-intensity continuous exercise that are limited to word learning performance of older adults with lower baseline learning abilities. Further investigation into underlying mechanisms could lead to a better understanding of individual differences in responding to acute exercise.

McSween and Copland are with the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia; and The University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research, The University of Queensland, Herston, Queensland, Australia. McMahon is with the School of Clinical Sciences, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Maguire and Coombes are with the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia. Rodriguez is with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Centre for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation, Atlanta, GA, USA. Erickson is with the Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

McSween (m.mcsween@uq.edu.au) is corresponding author.
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