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Breanna E. Studenka and Kodey Myers

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) exhibit impairment in helping someone else with a motor action, which may arise from impairment in selecting and preparing motor responses. Five children with ASD and five typically developing children performed a cooperative motor planning task that required them to reach for, lift, and hand an object (hammer or stick) to a researcher. The response, movement, and grasp time were measured. Children with ASD grasped the object longer on trials where they helped, indicating that the action was planned in sequence versus as a whole (i.e., prior to the onset of movement). The hammer object elicited a quicker response than the stick, suggesting the facilitation of planning by tools with inherent action properties. Finally, the increased helping of children with ASD was not mirrored by changes in the response, movement, or grasp time.

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Bouwien Smits-Engelsman, Wendy Aertssen and Emmanuel Bonney

Purpose: This study aimed (1) to evaluate the test–retest reliability of a new agility test among children and (2) to determine the physical performance and anthropometric variables that may influence agility performance in this population. Methods: For aim 1, participants (n = 34) completed the Ladder Agility Test (LAT) twice, with a 2-week interval between the first and second test occasions. For aim 2, participants (n = 125) were assessed on the LAT as well as other measures thought to be necessary for agility such as motor coordination, explosive power of the lower extremity, dynamic balance, age, and body mass index. Results: Intraclass correlation coefficient of the LAT total score was .94 (95% confidence interval, .88–.97). Cronbach alpha of .85 was found between the 4 test items. An R 2 of .466 was found to represent the explained variance of the LAT total score by the predicting variables. Dynamic balance (2-legged side jumps) (P < .001), motor coordination (P < .01), and age (P < .06) were found to be the major predictors of the LAT total score. Conclusions: This study shows that the LAT is a reliable and valid field-based test that can be used to evaluate agility performance in children. Factors such as dynamic balance, motor coordination, and age may influence agility performance.

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Lachlan J.G. Mitchell, Ben Rattray, Paul Wu, Philo U. Saunders and David B. Pyne

Purpose: Critical speed (CS) and supra-CS distance capacity (D′) are useful metrics for monitoring changes in swimmers’ physiological and performance capacities. However, the utility of these metrics across a season has not been systematically evaluated in high-level swimmers. Methods: A total of 27 swimmers (mean [SD]: 18 females, age = 19.1 [2.9] y, and 9 males, age = 19.5 [1.9] y) completed the 12 × 25-m swimming test multiple times (4 [3] tests/swimmer) across a 2-y period. Season-best times in all distances for the test stroke were sourced from publicly available databases. Swimmers’ distance speciality was determined as the event with the time closest to world record. Four metrics were calculated from the 12 × 25-m test: CS, D′, peak speed, and drop-off %. Results: Guyatt responsiveness index values were calculated to ascertain the practically relevant sensitivity of each 12 × 25-m metric: CS = 1.5, peak speed = 2.3, D′ = 2.1, and drop-off % = 2.6. These values are modified effect sizes; all are large effects. Bayesian mixed modeling showed substantial between-subjects differences between genders and strokes for each variable but minimal within-subject changes across the season. Drop-off % was lower in 200-m swimmers (14.0% [3.3%]) than in 100-m swimmers (18.1% [4.1%], P = .003, effect size = 1.10). Conclusions: The 12 × 25-m test is best suited to differentiating between swimmers of different strokes and events. Further development is needed to improve its utility in quantifying meaningful changes over a season for individual swimmers.

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Guy C. Wilson, Yorgi Mavros, Lotti Tajouri and Maria Fiatarone Singh

Background: Variations in genotype may contribute to heterogeneity in functional adaptations to exercise. Methods: A systematic search of eight databases was conducted, and 9,696 citations were screened. Results: Eight citations from seven studies measuring 10 single-nucleotide polymorphisms and nine different functional performance test outcomes were included in the review. There was one observational study of physical activity and six experimental studies of aerobic or resistance training. The ACE (D) allele, ACTN3 (RR) genotype, UCP2 (GG) genotype, IL-6-174 (GG) genotype, TNF-α-308 (GG) genotype, and IL-10-1082 (GG) genotype all predicted significantly superior adaptations in at least one functional outcome in older men and women after prescribed exercise or in those with higher levels of physical activity. Conclusion: There is a small amount of evidence that older adults may have better functional outcomes after exercise/physical activity if they have specific alleles related to musculoskeletal function or inflammation. However, more robust trials are needed.

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Matthew Jenkins, Elaine A. Hargreaves and Ken Hodge

The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of the constituent processes of psychological flexibility (contact with the present moment, acceptance, cognitive defusion, self-as-context, value clarification, and committed action) in supporting physical activity (PA) maintenance. A total of 9 physically active participants were interviewed using the Scanlan collaborative interview method. Participants were asked to discuss their strategies for maintaining PA, before being asked whether the 6 psychological flexibility processes played a role in their PA behavior. Data were analyzed using a combination of deductive and inductive thematic analyses. Acceptance, cognitive defusion, value clarification, and committed action played a role in participants’ experiences of maintaining PA. Contact with the present moment and self-as-context were reported to be relatively unimportant to participants’ PA maintenance. Cultivating acceptance of PA-related discomfort, defusion from unhelpful thoughts, clarifying the value of PA, and encouraging commitment to PA would likely benefit individuals’ efforts to maintain PA.

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Jocelyn F. Hafer, Mark S. Miller, Jane A. Kent and Katherine A. Boyer

Older females experience higher rates of disability than males, potentially due to sex-specific differences in gait and muscle function. The authors evaluated the effects of age and physical activity (PA) on gait mechanics and knee extensor muscle function in males and females. Three groups of 20 individuals (each 10 females) participated: young (21–35 y) and highly and less active older (55–70 y) adults. Knee extensor strength and joint mechanics during preferred speed gait were collected before and after 30 minutes of walking. Age by sex and PA by sex interactions indicated older and less active older females had lower concentric knee extensor muscle power and larger hip extension moments than males. After 30 minutes of walking, older less active adults had larger decreases in knee extensor power than their highly active older counterparts, and older adults of both sexes had decreases in ankle dorsiflexion moments while young adults did not. These results suggest that older, particularly less active, adults are susceptible to knee extensor muscle fatigue from moderate activity. For older adults, high levels of PA may be necessary to preserve gait mechanics in response to a bout of exercise. This new information may be important for targeting interventions in at-risk older adults.

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Paula R. Mesquita, Silvia G.R. Neri, Ricardo M. Lima, Eliane F. Manfio and Ana C. de David

Although previous reports have provided normative plantar pressure data for walking in children, evaluation during running is lacking. This study aimed to compare foot loading patterns during running and walking in children aged 4–10 years. Furthermore, the relationship between running baropodometric parameters and anthropometric measures was investigated. Foot loading of 120 volunteers was evaluated during running and walking using an Emed AT-4 pressure platform. Analyses were performed for 5 anatomical regions (rearfoot, midfoot, forefoot, hallux, and lesser toes). Higher peak pressure and maximum force values were seen under most foot regions during running in comparison with walking, whereas relative contact area tended to increase only in the midfoot. Data for running indicated that aging explained less than 23% of the variance of plantar loads and contact area. Running foot loads were more associated with height, body mass, and foot length. This study’s data described plantar loads under the feet of children were greater during running. Aging was associated with little increase in running plantar loads and larger contact areas. Results may be useful as reference to characterize foot loading during running and in the development of orthoses in clinical applications or products such as sport shoes for children.

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Jeff E. Goodwin

This investigation held concurrent visual feedback frequency at 50% in the acquisition phase and manipulated three different feedback schedules while comparing those to a 0% feedback frequency. In an assessment of dynamic postural stability, young, healthy adults performed 20 acquisition trials and four retention trials 48-hr later on a circular platform that moved in the anterior/posterior and medial/lateral axes simultaneously. Three concurrent feedback schedules were manipulated: a fade schedule consisting of high relative frequency of concurrent feedback early in the acquisition phase which was systematically reduced throughout acquisition (e.g., 100%, 75%, 50%, 25%, 0%), a constant schedule consisting of a uniform scheduling of concurrent feedback on every other acquisition trial, and a reverse fade group consisting of a schedule exactly opposite to that of the fade group. A no concurrent feedback group was also utilized to determine if feedback was necessary to learn the balance task. Acquisition and retention results revealed the concurrent groups performed with significantly greater accuracy and stability than the no concurrent feedback group. There were no significant differences between the three concurrent feedback schedules. Results indicate that manipulating concurrent feedback scheduling did not produce similar results to those investigations manipulating knowledge of results scheduling.

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Vera Ramos, Eliana V. Carraça, Teresa Paiva and Fátima Baptista

The aim of this study was to identify the best predictor of sleep quality (SQ) among physical behavior or capacity-related variables, namely physical activity, sedentary time, fitness, and physical function (activities of daily living) of independent elders using a representative sample of Portuguese aged 65 years and older (N = 437). SQ and activities of daily living were evaluated by a questionnaire, sedentary time, and physical activity through accelerometry, and physical fitness by means of the Senior Fitness Test. The logistic regression analysis revealed that activities of daily living measured by the Composite Physical Function was the only explanatory variable discriminating between poor SQ and good SQ. Receiver operating characteristic analysis showed that the best trade-off between sensitivity and specificity to discriminate older adults with poor SQ and good SQ was 20 points in the Composite Physical Function (sensitivity = 57.9%; specificity = 60.9%; area under the curve = 0.600, 95% confidence interval [0.536, 0.665], p = .003). Better physical function seems to be associated with better SQ in independent elders.