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Tami Abourezk and Tonya Toole

Thirty-four women ages 60 to 75 years were divided into two groups based on self-reported physical activity levels. The presence of significant fitness differences between the two activity groups was confirmed by testing all subjects on a well-established submaximal mile walking test. Both groups performed a reaction time task under two levels of task complexity: simple reaction time (SRT) and complex choice reaction time (CCRT). Time to react in milliseconds was recorded for both levels of task complexity. Analysis of variance revealed that the active group reacted faster (p < .05) than the less active group on CCRT (active M, 1.100 sec; less active M, 1.818 sec). However, SRT times did not differ between groups (active M, .345 msec; less active M, .374 msec). This finding lends support to the hypothesis that cognitive task complexity influences the strength of the association between physical fitness and cognitive performance in older adults.

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Tonya Toole and Judith C. Kretzschmar

The purposes of this review article are to: 1) present empirical studies which have compared the development of motor skills for boys and girls in the early childhood years, 2) present studies which have made gender comparisons for similar and related motor skills for older adults, and 3) make comparisons between the younger and older age group literature in terms of gender and causal factors contributing to gender differences. It was concluded that: 1) young boys and older men are superior to young girls and older women in power-dependent skills. Biological and environmental factors were discussed as they relate to gender differences in one power-dependent skill, throwing, throughout the life-span, and 2) young girls excel at hopping, skipping, hand-eye coordination, limb and body control, and balance tasks compared to young boys. Of these tasks, balance and hand-eye coordination are the only skills which are typically measured for young children and older adults. For balance in older age, the results are equivocal but suggestions were made for understanding why women may have lost their performance advantage in older adulthood. For hand-eye coordination, women are not clearly better than men as they were in youth. Reasons for life-span changes are suggested.

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Hani Ribadi, Robert A. Rider and Tonya Toole

The purpose of this investigation was to compare static and dynamic balance in sighted, sighted blindfolded, and congenitally blind students. The subjects (N = 51) ranged in age from 14.1 to 17.4 years of age. The sighted subjects (N = 34) were randomly assigned to one of two groups, 17 in the sighted and 17 in the sighted blindfolded group. The 17 congenitally blind subjects were selected from the total population of blind students attending a special school for the blind. All subjects were tested for static balance using the Stork Stand. Dynamic balance was measured using the stabilometer. The data analysis revealed significant differences between all three groups, with the sighted group demonstrating superior balance for both measures. The blind subjects performed significantly better than the sighted blindfolded group for dynamic balance only. The results of the study support previous investigations which have demonstrated that sighted individuals have better balance when compared with blind individuals. However, the fact that the blind subjects performed better on dynamic balance when compared to the sighted blindfolded group points to the need for immediate intervention in this area for adventitiously blind persons, or those acquiring blindness later in life.

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Lynn B. Panton, Michael R. Kushnick, J. Derek Kingsley, Robert J. Moffatt, Emily M. Haymes and Tonya Toole

Background:

To evaluate physical activity with pedometers and health markers of chronic disease in obese, lower socioeconomic African American women.

Methods:

Thirty-five women (48 ± 8 y) wore pedometers for 2 weeks. One-way analyses of variances were used to compare age, weight, body mass indices (BMI), and health markers of chronic disease (including blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, glycosylated hemoglobin, fibrinogen, C-reactive protein) between women who were classified by steps per day as sedentary (SED < 5,000; 2,941 ± 1,161 steps/d) or active (ACT ≥ 5,000; 7,181 ± 2,398 steps/d).

Results:

ACT had significantly lower BMI (ACT: 37.2 ± 5.6; SED: 44.4 ± 7.2 kg/m2) and hip circumferences (ACT: 37.2 ± 5.6; SED: 44.4 ± 37.2 cm) and higher total cholesterol (ACT: 230 ± 53; SED: 191 ± 32 mg/dL) than SED. There were no differences in health markers of chronic disease between SED and ACT. Pearson product moment correlations showed significant negative correlations between steps/d and weight (r = –.42), BMI (r = –.46), and hip circumference (r = –.47).

Conclusions:

Increased levels of physical activity were associated with reduced BMI and hip circumferences but were not associated with lower health markers for chronic disease in obese, lower socioeconomic African American women.