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Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Executive and Memory Functions in Patients With Alzheimer’s Disease: A Systematic Review

Qiaoyou Luo, Zuguo Tian, Yuting Hu, and Chaochao Wang

Background: Alzheimer’s disease threatens the health of older adults, particularly by disrupting executive and memory functions, and many studies have shown that aerobic exercise prevents and improves the symptoms associated with the disease. Objective: The objective was to systematically review the effects of aerobic exercise on executive and memory functions in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and to determine the effect factors and mechanisms of the design of aerobic exercise intervention programs. Method: Relevant literature was searched in three databases (PubMed, Web of Science, and EBSCO) from January 1, 2014 to March 1, 2023, using a subject-word search method. Data on 10 items, including author and country, were extracted from the literature after screening. The quality of the literature was evaluated using the Physiotherapy Evidence Database scale, and a systematic review was performed. Results: Twelve papers from seven countries were ultimately included, embodying 11 randomized controlled trials and one study with a repeated-measures design. The overall quality of the studies was good as 657 study participants, aged 45 years and older who had varying degrees of Alzheimer’s disease and significant symptoms, were included. Aerobic exercise was found to have a significant positive impact on executive and memory functions in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Conclusion: The effects of aerobic exercise on aspects of executive function were mainly characterized by improvements in inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility, whereas the effects on aspects of memory function were mainly characterized by improvements in logical memory, situational memory, and short-term memory.

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Physical Activity Patterns Within Dementia Care Dyads

Nicolas Farina, Ríona McArdle, Ruth G. Lowry, and Sube Banerjee

Previous research has explored the physical activity habits of people with dementia and their family carers separately, with little consideration of how physical habits are associated within dyads. In this observational study, we sought to explore the relationship between people with dementia and their carers’ physical activity, at a group level and at a dyadic level. Twenty-six participant dyads (persons with dementia and their carer spouses) were asked to wear an accelerometer for 30 days continuously. Comparisons were made at a group level and a dyadic level. People with dementia did not participate in significantly more moderate to vigorous physical activity (M = 15.44 min/day; SD = 14.40) compared with carers (M = 17.95 min/day; SD = 17.01). Within dyads, there were moderately strong associations between daily moderate to vigorous physical activity (r = .48–.54), but not with overall activity levels (r = .24). Despite physical activity habits remaining relatively low within people with dementia and carers, respectively, moderate to vigorous physical activity levels appear to be correlated within dyads. Understanding mutual influence on physical activity levels within dyads is an important pathway to promote an active lifestyle.

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Framing Physical Literacy for Adults Through a Rehabilitation Lens: An Expert Consensus Study

Celeste Petrusevski, Joy C. MacDermid, Michael G. Wilson, and Julie Richardson

Research indicates a positive relationship between physical literacy and healthy aging; however, there is no consensus on the components required to become a physically literate adult. The objective of this study was to understand how physical literacy for adults with chronic conditions is characterized from the perspective of healthcare professionals. Physiotherapy leaders and physical literacy researchers within North America were invited to an online consensus panel and presented with questions related to physical literacy and rehabilitation. A nominal group technique was used for idea generation, clarification, and ranking. Confidence and safety with movements, motivation and commitment to physical activity, the ability to self-monitor changes in function, and understanding the benefits of physical activity were key components when defining physical literacy. There is a need to reconceptualize physical literacy to include the rehabilitation needs of adults living with chronic conditions, and to design programs that promote physical literacy to enhance function and mobility.

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Systemic Sirtuin 1 as a Potential Target to Mediate Interactions Between Body Fat and Testosterone Concentration in Master Athletes

Patricio Lopes de Araújo Leite, Larissa Alves Maciel, Samuel da Silva Aguiar, Caio Victor Sousa, Rodrigo Vanerson Passos Neves, Ivo Vieira de Sousa Neto, Lucca Campbell Simões, Thiago dos Santos Rosa, and Herbert Gustavo Simões

Evidence indicates that master athletes have higher concentration of Sirtuin 1 (Sirt1), lower body fat (BF), and greater activity of the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis in comparison to untrained peers. However, no published data have demonstrated possible mediation effect of Sirt1 in the interaction of BF and testosterone in this population. Therefore, this study compared and verified possible associations between Sirt1, BF, fat mass index (FMI), testosterone, luteinizing hormone (LH), and testosterone/luteinizing hormone (T/LH) ratio in middle-aged master athletes (n = 54; 51.22 ± 7.76 years) and control middle-aged peers (n = 21; 47.76 ± 8.47 years). Venous blood was collected for testosterone, LH, and Sirt1. BF was assessed through skinfold protocol. Although LH concentration did not differ between groups, master athletes presented higher concentration of Sirt1, testosterone, and T/LH ratio, and lower BF and FMI in relation to age-matched nonathletes. Moreover, Sirt1 correlated positively with testosterone and T/LH ratio, negatively with BF, and was not significantly correlated with LH (mediation analysis revealed the effect of BF on testosterone is mediated by Sirt1 and vice versa; R 2 = .1776; p = .032). In conclusion, master athletes have higher testosterone, T/LH ratio, and Sirt1, and lower BF and FMI in relation to untrained peers. Furthermore, Sirt1 was negatively associated with BF and positively associated with testosterone and T/LH ratio. These findings suggest that increased circulating Sirt1, possibly due to the master athlete’s training regimens and lifestyle, exhibits a potential mediation effect on the interaction between endocrine function and body composition.

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Physical Behavior Profiles Among Older Adults and Their Associations With Physical Capacity and Life-Space Mobility

Lotta Palmberg, Antti Löppönen, Matti Hyvärinen, Erja Portegijs, Taina Rantanen, Timo Rantalainen, and Laura Karavirta

We identified data-driven multidimensional physical activity (PA) profiles using several novel accelerometer-derived metrics. Participants aged 75, 80, and 85 (n = 441) wore triaxial accelerometers for 3–7 days. PA profiles were formed with k-means cluster analysis based on PA minutes, intensity, fragmentation, sit-to-stand transitions, and gait bouts for men and women. Associations with physical capacity and life-space mobility were examined using age-adjusted general linear models. Three profiles emerged: “Exercisers” and “actives” accumulated relatively high PA minutes, with actives engaging in lighter intensity PA. “Inactives” had the highest activity fragmentation and lowest PA volume, intensity, and gait bouts. Inactives showed lower scores in physical capacity and life-space mobility compared with exercisers and actives. Exercisers and actives had similar physical capacity and life-space mobility, except female exercisers had higher walking speed in the 6-min walk test. Our findings demonstrate the importance of assessing PA as multidimensional behavior rather than focusing on a single metric.

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Decadal Trends in Physical Activity Adherence Among Korean Older Adults: An Analysis of National Survey of Older Korean Data, 2011–2020

Joonyoung Lee, Eun Seong Kim, Hyunyoung Lee, and Jung Hoon Huh

Background/Objectives: This study investigated adherence to physical activity (PA) guidelines and associated sociodemographic factors among older Koreans from 2011 to 2020. Methods: Utilizing four public data sets from the National Survey of Older Koreans, the study included the data on 40,993 older adults 65 years and older in South Korea, collected between 2011 and 2020. Adherence to PA guidelines and sociodemographic factors were assessed through self-reported questionnaires. The data were analyzed using a two-way analysis of variance and post hoc tests. Results: Overall adherence increased from 39.1% in 2011 to 48.2% in 2017, then decreased to 37.6% in 2020 (p < .001). Men had higher adherence than women (p < .001). Age-related adherence peaked in the young-older group (65–74 years old) and was lowest in the oldest-old group (85+ years old) (p < .001). Marital status, education, and income were also significantly related to PA adherence (p < .001) across the years. Conclusion: Although continuous increase in adherence to PA among Koreans 65 years and older was observed, the decline in PA levels during the COVID era underscored the need for targeted interventions and well-informed health care policies to address demographic challenges. Still, considering that data were collected during the recommended social distancing period, a cautions interpretation of these findings is warranted. Significance/Implications: Health policies aiming to improve adherence to PA guidelines should prioritize Korean older adults who are female, belong to the oldest-old group, are single, and have low education and income levels, with the goal of enhancing health equity.

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Single- Versus Double-Leg Cycling: Small Muscle Mass Exercise Improves Exercise Capacity to a Greater Extent in Older Compared With Younger Population

Toni Haddad, Angela L. Spence, Jeremiah J. Peiffer, Gregory M. Blain, Jeanick Brisswalter, and Chris R. Abbiss

Manipulating the amount of muscle mass engaged during exercise can noninvasively inform the contribution of central cardiovascular and peripheral vascular-oxidative functions to endurance performance. To better understand the factors contributing to exercise limitation in older and younger individuals, exercise performance was assessed during single-leg and double-leg cycling. 16 older (67 ± 5 years) and 14 younger (35 ± 5 years) individuals performed a maximal exercise using single-leg and double-leg cycling. The ratio of single-leg to double-leg cycling power (RatioPower SL/DL) was compared between age groups. The association between fitness (peak oxygen consumption, peak power output, and physical activity levels) and RatioPower SL/DL was explored. The RatioPower SL/DL was greater in older compared with younger individuals (1.14 ± 0.11 vs. 1.06 ± 0.08, p = .041). The RatioPower SL/DL was correlated with peak oxygen consumption (r = .886, p < .001), peak power output relative to body mass (r = .854, p < .001), and levels of physical activity (r = .728, p = .003) in the younger but not older subgroup. Reducing the amount of muscle mass engaged during exercise improved exercise capacity to a greater extent in older versus younger population and may reflect a greater reduction in central cardiovascular function compared with peripheral vascular-oxidative function with aging.

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An Investigation of the Sled-Push Exercise Using a Resisted Sled Machine in Apparently Healthy Older Adults: An Exploratory Study

Micheal Baumann, Christopher Hill, Clayton Camic, Peter Chomentowski, Vitor Siqueira, Steven Petruzzello, and Emerson Sebastião

Physical function is regarded as the cornerstone of healthy aging, and exercise is an important determinant of healthy aging. This study examined the feasibility and physiological (heart rate, blood pressure, blood lactate, and rate of perceived exertion) and psychological (enjoyment) response resulting from an acute progressive sled-push (SLP) exercise session using the novel XPO Sled Trainer in older adults and compared that with walking (WKC) condition. The exercise session comprised six exercise bouts at 75%, 85%, 100% (2×), and 125% (2×) of normal velocity with a 2-min rest between bouts. Thirty-six older adults were randomly allocated into either the SLP or WKC conditions. No adverse events were observed during the exercise session, and all participants completed the exercise protocol as prescribed. One-third of the participants in the SLP group reported minimal body discomfort. Significantly higher responses were observed for all physiological variables as the intensity of the exercise increased in the SLP group compared with the WKC group (p < .001). The SLP group presented a decline in enjoyment as the intensity of the exercise increased (during), but similar enjoyment level than the WKC group for the overall exercise session (p = .711). Our findings support the viability and safety of SLP exercise using the XPO Sled Trainer in older adults. Such exercise demonstrated an intensity-driven modality that may have potential to elucidate positive adaptations in the cardiovascular system of older adults with acceptable levels of enjoyment.

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The Association Between Physical Activity, Obesity, and Cognition in Middle-Aged and Older Adults

Andrew J. Fiscella and Ross Andel

As rates of obesity continue to rise, so does the impact of obesity on cognitive function. Engaging in physical activity is one pathway through which individuals can help maintain cognitive function. This study examined whether any link between exercise and cognitive function was associated with weight characteristics. Data from 6,012 participants in the Health and Retirement Study were used. The association between participation in light or moderate physical activity and better cognitive function was particularly strong for overweight or obese adults and less so for those who were normal weight. Overall, the findings suggested that while being physically active is associated with better cognitive function regardless of weight, the associations were stronger for individuals who were overweight/obese compared with those who were normal weight. Given the results were particularly pronounced for waist circumference (relative to body mass index), further research should be conducted to examine if individuals with greater abdominal adiposity may benefit most from staying active in terms of their cognitive function.

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Effect of an 18-Month Walking Intervention on the Rest–Activity Rhythm of Older Adults With Mild–Moderate Dementia

Karin Mariëlle Volkers, Johanna Gerdine Douma, Jan Binne Hoeksma, and Erik Johan Anton Scherder

The objective of this 18-month walking intervention was to evaluate the effect on rest–activity rhythm (RAR) for older adults with mild-to-moderate dementia (65.8% female; aged M = 82.4 [SD = 6.5]). The intervention group (n = 44) was intended to walk 30 min, five times per week for 18 months. The control group (n = 35) received sedentary activities or usual care. RAR was measured at baseline to after 18 months and five times in between actigraphy outcome variables (interdaily stability, intradaily variability, relative amplitude, activity 10 most active hours, and activity 5 least active hours). Hierarchical mixed model analyses revealed no significant intervention effects (with or without baseline confounders as covariate) on RAR. However, participants in the intervention group were able to significantly increase their daily life activity (activity 10 most active hours) from the onset of the preceding measurement, b = 0.10, t(239.32) = 2.36, p = .019. More research is warranted to study the effect of regular walks on older persons with dementia whose RAR is worst at baseline.