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Susan Aguiñaga, Diane K. Ehlers, Elizabeth A. Salerno, Jason Fanning, Robert W. Motl, and Edward McAuley

Background: Late-life depression and anxiety among older adults is an important public health concern. This study examined the effect of a DVD-delivered exercise intervention on the secondary outcomes of depression and anxiety in older adults and the extent to which physical self-worth mediated the relationship between leisure-time physical activity and depression and anxiety. Methods: Older adults (N = 307) were randomized to a 6-month flexibility, toning, and balance DVD (FlexToBa™, FTB) or healthy aging DVD control. Self-reported physical activity and questionnaires were administered at baseline and postintervention. Statistical analyses were conducted in the total sample and in a subsample of participants with elevated levels of depression or anxiety. Results: FTB participants with elevated depression and anxiety symptoms at baseline had significantly greater reductions in depression and anxiety (d = 1.66 and 2.90) than the control condition (d = 0.77 and 0.73). The effect of physical activity on depression and anxiety was partially mediated by increases in physical self-worth in the total sample but not in those with elevated depression or anxiety. Conclusion: A home-based physical activity intervention may be a viable treatment for reducing depression and anxiety in older adults with elevated baseline scores.

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David X. Marquez, Robert Wilson, Susan Aguiñaga, Priscilla Vásquez, Louis Fogg, Zhi Yang, JoEllen Wilbur, Susan Hughes, and Charles Spanbauer

Disparities exist between Latinos and non-Latino Whites in cognitive function. Dance is culturally appropriate and challenges individuals physically and cognitively, yet the impact of regular dancing on cognitive function in older Latinos has not been examined. A two-group pilot trial was employed among inactive, older Latinos. Participants (N = 57) participated in the BAILAMOS© dance program or a health education program. Cognitive test scores were converted to z-scores and measures of global cognition and specific domains (executive function, episodic memory, working memory) were derived. Results revealed a group × time interaction for episodic memory (p < .05), such that the dance group showed greater improvement in episodic memory than the health education group. A main effect for time for global cognition (p < .05) was also demonstrated, with participants in both groups improving. Structured Latin dance programs can positively influence episodic memory, and participation in structured programs may improve overall cognition among older Latinos.