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Anna-Eva Prick, Jacomine de Lange, Erik Scherder, Jos Twisk and Anne Margriet Pot

The objective was to evaluate the effects of a multicomponent dyadic intervention on the cognitive functioning of people with dementia living at home in a randomized controlled trial. People with dementia and their family caregivers (n = 111) were randomly assigned to 8 home-based sessions including physical exercise and support or a minimal intervention consisting of monthly written information bulletins and monthly phone calls. Memory, executive functioning (EF), and attention were assessed at baseline, and after 3 (postmeasurement) and 6 months (follow-up). Data were analyzed by using generalized estimating equations (GEE). A small, significant effect was found on attention. No effects were found on memory and EF. Finding only a small significant effect might be explained by the ineffectiveness of the intervention, but also by moderate treatment adherence or a lack of room for improvement because half of the people with dementia were already receiving care in a day care facility.

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Karin M. Volkers, Tim C.W. van Dijk, Laura H. Eggermont, A. Peter Hollander and Erik J.A. Scherder

Introduction:

The American College of Sports Medicine prescribes regular performance of at least moderate-intensity physical activity for healthy aging. This study examined whether 1 session of 30 min of chair-assisted exercises for the elderly meets this intensity criterion.

Method:

This cross-sectional study included 47 cognitively healthy volunteers (mean age 84 years). During the performance of 30 min of chair-assisted exercises the authors determined oxygen uptake (VO2), carbon dioxide production, heart rate (HR), and rating of perceived exertion (RPE). These measures were expressed as a percentage of the estimated maximal VO2 (VO2max) and the estimated maximal HR (HRmax) and estimated as metabolic equivalent units (METs).

Results:

Participants performed chair-assisted exercises at 61.0% ± 14.7% of VO2max, 67.6% ± 11.3% HRmax, 3.9 ± 0.9 METs, and 13.1 ± 2.1 RPE.

Conclusions:

The intensity of these chair-assisted exercises is at least moderate for older adults, which is necessary for healthy aging.

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Anneke G. van der Niet, Joanne Smith, Jaap Oosterlaan, Erik J.A. Scherder, Esther Hartman and Chris Visscher

The objective of this study was to analyze the effects of a physical activity program including both aerobic exercise and cognitively engaging physical activities on children’s physical fitness and executive functions. Children from 3 primary schools (aged 8–12 years) were recruited. A quasi-experimental design was used. Children in the intervention group (n = 53; 19 boys, 34 girls) participated in a 22-week physical activity program for 30 min during lunch recess, twice a week. Children in the control group (n = 52; 32 boys, 20 girls) followed their normal lunch routine. Aerobic fitness, speed and agility, and muscle strength were assessed using the Eurofit test battery. Executive functions were assessed using tasks measuring inhibition (Stroop test), working memory (Visual Memory Span test, Digit Span test), cognitive flexibility (Trailmaking test), and planning (Tower of London). Children in the intervention group showed significantly greater improvement than children in the control group on the Stroop test and Digit Span test, reflecting enhanced inhibition and verbal working memory skills, respectively. No differences were found on any of the physical fitness variables. A physical activity program including aerobic exercise and cognitively engaging physical activities can enhance aspects of executive functioning in primary school children.