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Carlos Ayan, Jose Cancela Carral and Carlos Montero


The relationship between physical activity (PA) and academic performance has been previously studied. However, there is a need to determine if the intensity of the PA performed and its predominant metabolic pathway show any degree of association with the academic achievement.


Cross-sectional data were gathered from Spanish young competitive swimmers. Academic achievement was based on individual grades for each student; the PA level was measured by means of the Physical Activity Questionnaire for Adolescents. Swimmers were classified according to the preferential energetic cost of the event in which they competed.


A total of 254 swimmers finished the study; 62.8% of them were considered moderate active. The statistical analysis showed that the higher the level of PA performed, the better the average grades achieved. This relationship was significant among the girls (P = .04). No significant differences were found regarding the influence of the kind of swimming event. However, taking part in aerobic events proved to have a significant influence on the academic achievement for girls (P = .01).


The link between academic achievement and PA depends on the intensity in which the PA is performed, as well as on its predominant metabolic pathway. However, such associations seem to be gender-dependent.

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Carlos Ayán, Paulo Carvalho, Silvia Varela and José María Cancela

Background: Research regarding the impact of aquatic exercise on cognition is scarce. This study aimed at identifying the effects of water-based exercise training on the cognitive function and quality of life of healthy adult women. Methods: Fifty-one healthy women [mean age: 46.5 (12.3) y] were assigned to group A or B and followed a water-based exercise program for 6 months. During the first 3 months, the sessions performed by group A were focused on stimulating cognitive function. For the next 3 months, the sessions were mainly aimed at improving physical fitness. Participants in group B followed the same program in reverse order. The trail making and symbol digit modality tests were used to assess the impact of the program on cognition. The effects of the intervention on the participants’ physical and mental health were measured by means of the medical outcomes study 36-item short-form health survey. Results: Once the intervention ended, significant improvements were observed in the participants’ cognitive function and mental health domain, regardless of the group in which they were initially included. Conclusion: Water-based exercise is a training modality capable of enhancing cognitive function and quality of life through improvements in mental health in healthy adult women.

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Silvia Varela, José M. Cancela, Manuel Seijo-Martinez and Carlos Ayán

This study aimed at identifying the effects of self-paced cycling on the cognitive and functional status and fall risk on institutionalized older adults without cognitive impairment. A total of 39 individuals were randomly assigned to an exercise group or to a control group. The exercise group participants cycled at their self-selected intensity at least for 15 min daily during 15 months. The control group participants performed recreational activities. The Mini-Mental State Examination, Fuld object memory evaluation, and symbol digit modality test were used for cognitive assessments. The Katz index, the timed “Up & Go” test, and the World Health Organization questionnaire were used to assess functional independence, mobility, and fall risk. Significant improvements were observed in the exercise group for global cognition and attention, visual scanning, and processing speed. Long-term self-paced cycling training seems to have a protective effect on cognitive status and attention, visual scanning, and processing speed in older institutionalized individuals.

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Alfonso Gutiérrez-Santiago, Iván Prieto-Lage, Arturo Martín and Carlos Ayán

Background: To provide information regarding injury incidence, injury pattern, and associated injury risk factors in elite Paralympic judokas. Methods: Participants in this observational research were elite judokas taking part in the IBSA 2018 World Judo Championship. The entire championship was videotaped, and all injuries were prospectively documented using an all-complaints definition. Results: The tournament featured 267 judokas, (B1 = 58; B2 = 105; B3 = 104). The injury proportion was estimated at 18.9 injuries/100 fighters (B1 = 13.8; B2 = 22.3; B3 = 18.5). A total of 745 athletic exposures were registered. The overall injury rate was 68.5 (95% CI, 52.5–89.2); 62.5 (95% CI, 32–122.3); 79.6 (95% CI, 53.8–17.8); and 61.2 (95% CI, 40–93.5) for the total sample, B1, B2, and B3 judokas, respectively. When only injuries resulting in medical attention were analyzed, the overall injury rate was calculated to be 22.8 (95% CI, 14.3–36.5), and the injury proportion was estimated at 6.3 injuries/100 fighters. No significant differences were found for sex, weight, and visual class regarding injury proportion and injury rates. Conclusion: Paralympic judokas show a high injury rate. However, when only injuries that needed medical attention were taken into account, the proportion of athletes injured was low. The degree of visual impairment was not considered as an injury risk factor.

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Óscar Martínez de Quel, Ignacio Ara, Mikel Izquierdo and Carlos Ayán

Objective: To assess the discriminative ability of several fitness dimensions and anthropometric attributes for forecasting competitive success in female karate athletes. Methods: Fitness and anthropometric data from 98 female junior karatekas obtained during the training camps of the Spanish National Karate Federation between 1999 and 2012 were used. Binary logistic-regression models were built to ascertain whether the set of fitness and anthropometric variables could predict future sporting-performance levels. For this purpose, participants were classified as elite (medalist in World or European Championships in the senior category) or subelite (at least a medalist in Spanish National Championships in cadet or junior but not included in the elite group), according to the results achieved up to 2019. Results: Participants who were subsequently classified as elite karatekas showed significant differences in agility, upper- and lower-body muscle power, and general fitness in comparison with those who were classified as subelite in the senior category. A total of 57 junior female karatekas who were subsequently classified as elite (7) or subelite (50) were included in the binary logistic-regression analysis. Resultant models showed significant capacity to predict karate performance. Conclusions: Assessing physical fitness in junior categories can be a useful resource to determine future karate success. Coaches in this sport should pay special attention to the levels of muscle power and agility shown by their athletes, as both fitness dimensions could be indicators of future sportive success.

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Miguel A. Sanchez-Lastra, Vicente de Dios Álvarez and Carlos Ayán Pérez

Background: The promotion of physical activity among imprisoned people is a public health strategy that could help to improve the health status of this collective. This systematic review is aimed at reviewing the scientific evidence regarding the effects of exercise training programs performed by inmates. Methods: A systematic search for randomized controlled trials aimed at identifying the characteristics and effects of prison-based exercise training programs on imprisoned people was carried through MEDLINE, SPORTDiscus, and Scopus. Results: A total of 11 randomized controlled studies were selected, and the methodological quality of these was acceptable according to the Downs and Black scale. The proposed interventions were mainly based on the performance of aerobic or combined exercise training programs. Generally, the participants were healthy men who were imprisoned for at least 2 months and up to 15 years. Ten out of the 11 studies reported significant changes on physical and mental health–related variables, after the intervention took place. Conclusion: These findings suggest that prison-based exercise programs constitute a feasible and useful strategy for improving the physical and mental health status of prisoners.

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Miguel A. Sanchez-Lastra, Kyle J. Miller, Rodolfo I. Martínez-Lemos, Antón Giráldez and Carlos Ayán

Background: Nordic walking (NW) is a potentially beneficial exercise strategy for overweight and obese people. To date, no reviews have synthesized the existing scientific evidence regarding the effects of NW on this population. This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to identify the characteristics, methodological quality, and results of the investigations that have studied the effects of NW in overweight and obese individuals. Methods: Six electronic databases were searched up to June 2019 for studies that examined the effects of NW on people with a body mass index ≥ 25 kg/m2. The methodological quality of the included randomized controlled trials was retrieved from the physiotherapy evidence database or evaluated using the physiotherapy evidence database scale. Results: Twelve studies were included in the review. The investigations were mostly good-to-fair methodological quality. NW groups had a significant improvement on parameters such as fasting plasma glucose, abdominal adiposity, and body fat compared with the baseline, but no significant improvements were found when compared with control groups. Conclusions: NW can potentially lead to improvements in parameters related to major health outcomes in overweight and obese people. The lack of control for confounding variables in the analyzed studies prevents further elaboration on its potential benefits.

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José M. Cancela, M Helena Vila Suárez,, Jamine Vasconcelos, Ana Lima and Carlos Ayán

This study evaluates the impact of Brain Gym (BG) training in active older adults. Eighty-five participants were assigned to four training groups: BG (n = 18), BG plus water-based exercise (n = 18), land-based exercise (n = 30), and land plus water-based exercise (n = 19). The effects of the programs on the attention and memory functions were assessed by means of the symbol digit modality test. The two-min step and the eight-foot up-and-go tests were used to evaluate their impact on fitness level. No program had a significant influence on the participant’s cognitive performance, while different effects on the sample’ fitness levels were observed. These findings suggest that the effects of BG on the cognitive performance and fitness level of active older adults are similar to those obtained after the practice of a traditional exercise program. Whether BG is performed in isolation or combined with other exercise programs seems to have no influence on such effects.

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Renata V. Pedroso, Carlos Ayán, Francisco J. Fraga, Thays M.V. da Silva, José M. Cancela and Ruth F. Santos-Galduròz

The aim of this study was to verify the effects of functional-task training on cognitive function, activities of daily living (ADL) performance, and functional fitness in community-dwelling older adults with diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). A total of 57 participants (22 functional-task training group [FTG], 21 social gathering group [SGG], 14 control group [CG]) were recruited. Participants in both intervention groups carried out three 1-hr sessions per week of a functional-task program and social gathering activities for 12 weeks. Significant improvements were observed in executive functions (TMT, t-test, p = .03) in the SGG and in upper limb strength (arm curl, t-test, p = .01) in the FTG. Functional-task training has no significant effect on cognitive function, ADL, and functional fitness among people with AD, although it may contribute to slowing down the process of deterioration this illness causes.

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Miguel A. Sanchez-Lastra, Antonio J. Molina, Vicente Martin, Tania Fernández-Villa, Jose M. Cancela and Carlos Ayan

This study aimed to determine if stretching exercise can be implemented as an adequate control therapy in exercise randomized controlled trials aimed at improving physical fitness and physical function in older adults. Five electronic databases were systematically searched for randomized controlled trials focused in the physical fitness and function of older adults using stretching exercise as control group. The methodological quality was assessed and a meta-analysis was carried out. Sixteen studies were included, 13 in the meta-analysis. The methodological quality ranged from fair to good. The meta-analysis only in the controls resulted in significant improvements in different functional parameters related to walking, balance, knee flexion strength, or global physical function. The interventions, compared with the controls, significantly improved balance and knee strength parameters. Stretching exercise as control therapy in older people can lead to beneficial effects and could influence the interpretation of the effect size in the intervention groups.