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Kevin A. Becker, Ayana F. Georges and Christopher A. Aiken

Empirical findings consistently suggest that an external focus of attention leads to superior performance when compared to an internal focus by encouraging more automatic processing. However, for certain skills (e.g., gymnastics routines) it can be challenging to identify a meaningful external focus cue. A related line of research suggests that focusing on the general feeling of a movement (i.e., holistic focus) may also be useful in avoiding conscious control of movements. The purpose of this study was to determine how an internal focus (INT), external focus (EXT), and holistic focus (HOL) impact the performance of a standing long jump. Participants (N = 27) completed two baseline jumps followed by two jumps in each focus condition. Jump distance was analyzed in a 6 (Order) × 4 (Focus) mixed ANOVA. Results indicated a significant main effect of focus (p < .001), with EXT and HOL resulting in farther jumps than INT and baseline conditions (p-values < .05). EXT and HOL did not differ significantly from each other, and INT did not differ significantly from baseline. The findings suggest that a holistic focus can be another effective means of avoiding conscious control of movement when an external focus is not practical or desired.

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Leah S. Goudy, Brandon Rhett Rigby, Lisa Silliman-French and Kevin A. Becker

The purpose of this study was to determine changes in balance, postural sway, and quality of life after 6 wk of simulated horseback riding in adults diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Eight older adults completed two 60-min riding sessions weekly for 6 wk. Variables of balance, postural sway, and quality of life were measured 6 wks before and within 1 wk before and after the intervention. Berg Balance Scale scores decreased from baseline to preintervention (48.36 ± 5.97 vs. 45.86 ± 6.42, p = .050) and increased from preintervention to postintervention (45.86 ± 6.42 vs. 50.00 ± 4.38, p = .002). Cognitive impairment, a dimension of quality of life, improved from baseline to postintervention (37.5 ± 20.5 vs. 21.5 ± 14.4, p = .007). Six weeks of simulated horseback riding may improve balance and cognitive impairment in older adults with Parkinson’s disease.

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Brandon R. Rigby, Ronald W. Davis, Marco A. Avalos, Nicholas A. Levine, Kevin A. Becker and David L. Nichols

The purpose of this study was to compare acute cardiometabolic responses to 3 modes of treadmill exercise in adults diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Eight elderly adults with PD (67.9 ± 3.0 yr) completed 1 session each on a land, aquatic, and antigravity treadmill at 50% body weight. Participants walked from 1 to 3 mph in 0.5-mph increments at 0% grade for 5 min at each speed. Heart rate, energy expenditure, blood pressure, and rating of perceived exertion were measured at rest and during exercise. All variables except diastolic blood pressure increased with speed on all treadmills (p < .001). At all speeds except 1.5 mph, heart rate was higher on the land treadmill than the antigravity treadmill (p < .05). Exercising on an aquatic or antigravity treadmill elicits similar submaximal physiologic responses to exercise on a land treadmill in adults with PD.