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Catrine Tudor-Locke, Tiago V. Barreira, Robert M. Brouillette, Heather C. Foil and Jeffrey N. Keller

Background:

The relationship between clinically assessed and free-living walking is unclear. Cadence (steps/min) can be measured accurately under both conditions using modern technologies, thus providing a common measurement metric. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to compare clinical and free-living cadence in older adults.

Methods:

15 community-dwelling older adults (7 men, 8 women; 61–81 years) completed GAITRite-determined normal and dual-task walks and wore objective monitors for 1 week. Descriptive data included gait speed (cm/sec), steps/day, as well as cadence. Nonparametric tests evaluated differences between normal and dual-task walks and between accelerometer- and pedometer-determined steps/day. Free-living time detected above clinically determined cadence was calculated.

Results:

Participants crossed the GAITRite at 125.56 ± 15.51 cm/sec (men) and 107.93 ± 9.41 steps/min (women) during their normal walk and at 112.59 ± 17.90 cm/sec and 103.10 ± 1.30 steps/min during their dual-task walk (differences between walks P < .05). Overall, they averaged 7159 ± 2480 (accelerometer) and 7813 ± 2919 steps/day (pedometer; difference NS). On average, < 10 min/day was spent above clinically determined cadences.

Conclusions:

High-functioning, community-dwelling older adults are capable of walking at relatively high cadences (ie, > 100 steps/min). However, the same behavior appears to be uncommon in daily life, even for a minute.

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Ahmadreza Nematollahi, Fahimeh Kamali, Ali Ghanbari, Zahra Etminan and Sobhan Sobhani

The aim of this study was to examine and compare the effects of conventional, multisensory, and dual-task exercises on balance ability in a group of older community dwellers over a four-week period. Forty-four older people were randomly assigned to one of the three training groups. The score on the Fullerton Advanced Balance (FAB) scale, gait stability ratio, and walking speed were evaluated at baseline and after four weeks of training. All three groups showed significant (p < .001) improvement in the FAB scores following the three training programs (on average, 3 points for the conventional and multisensory groups and 3.8 points for the dual-task group). The improvements were comparable across the three intervention groups (p = .23). There were no statistically significant differences, neither within nor between groups, in the gait stability ratio and walking speed across the three training groups. In a four-week period, all the training modes were effective in improving balance of older adults, with no significant superiority of one mode of training over another.

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José Francisco Filipe Marmeleira, Filipe Manuel Soares de Melo, Mouhaydine Tlemcani and Mário Adriano Bandeira Godinho

The main aim of this research was to study the effects of a specific exercise program on the speed of behavior of older adults during on-the-road driving. Twenty-six drivers (55–78 yr old) were randomly assigned to either an exercise group or a control group. The exercise program (3 sessions of 60 min/wk for 8 wk) incorporated tasks that induced the participants to respond quickly to challenging situations. On-the-road driving tasks (under single- and dual-task conditions) included measures of simple and choice reaction time, movement time, and response time. Significant positive effects were found at follow-up resulting from participation in the exercise program: Improvements were found for several measures in all driving tasks, and a composite score reflected a better general drivers’ speed of behavior. These results show that exercise can enhance speed of behavior in older drivers and should therefore be promoted.

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Cathy M. Arnold and Robert A. Faulkner

Objective:

To evaluate the effect of aquatic exercise and education on fall risk factors in older adults with hip osteoarthritis (OA).

Method:

Seventy-nine adults, 65 years of age or older with hip OA and at least 1 fall risk factor, were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: aquatics and education (AE; aquatic exercise twice a wk with once-a-wk group education), aquatics only (A; 2 wk aquatic exercise) and control (C; usual activity). Balance, falls efficacy, dual-task function, functional performance (chair stands), and walking performance were measured pre- and postintervention or control period.

Results:

There was a significant improvement in fall risk factors (full-factorial MANCOVA, baseline values as covariates; p = .038); AE improved in falls efficacy compared with C and in functional performance compared with A and C.

Conclusion:

The combination of aquatic exercise and education was effective in improving fall risk factors in older adults with arthritis.

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Gabriele Wulf, Rebecca Lewthwaite and Andrew Hooyman

We examined the interactive influence of normative feedback and conceptions of ability on the learning of a balance task. Ability conceptions were induced by instructions portraying the task as either an acquirable skill or reflecting an inherent ability. Bogus normative feedback about the “average” balance scores of others on a given trial suggested that participants’ performance was either above (Better groups) or below average (Worse groups). Thus, there were four groups: Inherent-Ability Better, Inherent-Ability Worse, Acquirable-Skill Better, and Acquirable-Skill Worse. Following two days of practice, learning was assessed on Day 3 in retention and dual-task transfer tests. The Better groups demonstrated more effective learning than the Worse groups. Questionnaire results revealed differences in self-related concerns between those groups. Signature size changes suggested that participants in the Worse groups perceived negative normative feedback as a threat to the self. The findings highlight the importance of motivational influences on motor learning.

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Stephan Dutke, Thomas Jaitner, Timo Berse and Jonathan Barenberg

Research on effects of acute physical exercise on performance in a concurrent cognitive task has generated equivocal evidence. Processing efficiency theory predicts that concurrent physical exercise can increase resource requirements for sustaining cognitive performance even when the level of performance is unaffected. This hypothesis was tested in a dual-task experiment. Sixty young adults worked on a primary auditory attention task and a secondary interval production task while cycling on a bicycle ergometer. Physical load (cycling) and cognitive load of the primary task were manipulated. Neither physical nor cognitive load affected primary task performance, but both factors interacted on secondary task performance. Sustaining primary task performance under increased physical and/or cognitive load increased resource consumption as indicated by decreased secondary task performance. Results demonstrated that physical exercise effects on cognition might be underestimated when only single task performance is the focus.

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Robert N. Singer, Ronnie Lidor and James H. Cauraugh

The effectiveness of three learning strategies on achievement was compared in the learning and performing of a self-paced motor task. More specifically, investigated was the influence of (a) an awareness strategy (to consciously attend to the act and to what one is doing during execution); (b) a nonawareness strategy (to preplan the movement and perform the task without conscious attention to it; “to just do it”); (c) the Five-Step Approach (to systematically ready oneself, image the act, focus attention on a cue, execute without thought, and evaluate the act and the previous steps); and (d) a control condition (to use one’s own approach). Subjects (N = 72) received 250 trials to master a computer-managed ball-throwing task, and 50 more in a dual-task situation. The Five-Step Approach and nonawareness strategies led to the highest achievement, and the three strategies resulted in less radial error in comparison to the control condition.

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Mark Wilson, Mark Chattington, Dilwyn E. Marple-Horvat and Nick C. Smith

This study examined attentional processes underlying skilled motor performance in threatening situations. Twenty-four trained participants performed a simulated rally driving task under conditions designed either to direct the focus of attention toward the explicit monitoring of driving or a distracting secondary task. Performance (lap time) was compared with a “driving only” control condition. Each condition was completed under nonevaluative and evaluative instructional sets designed to manipulate anxiety. Mental effort was indexed by self-report and dual-task performance measures. The results showed little change in performance in the high-threat explicit monitoring task condition, compared with either the low-threat or the high-threat distraction conditions. Mental effort increased, however, in all high- as opposed to low-threat conditions. Performance effectiveness was therefore maintained under threat although this was at the expense of reduced processing efficiency. The results provide stronger support for the predictions of processing efficiency theory than self-focus theories of choking.

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Christopher M. Janelle, Robert N. Singer and A. Mark Williams

We examined distraction and attentional narrowing in a dual-task auto-racing simulation. Participants were randomly assigned to six groups: distraction control, distraction anxiety, relevant control, relevant anxiety, central control, and central anxiety. Those in central conditions performed a driving task; the other four groups identified peripheral lights in addition to driving. Irrelevant peripheral lights were included in distraction conditions. Participants in anxiety conditions were exposed to increasing levels of anxiety via a time-to-event paradigm. In 3 sessions of 20 trials, measures of cognitive anxiety, arousal. visual search patterns, and performance were recorded. At higher levels of anxiety, the identification of peripheral lights became slower and less accurate. and significant performance decrements occurred in central and peripheral tasks. Furthermore, visual search patterns were more eccentric in the distraction anxiety group. Results suggest that drivers who are highly anxious experience an altered ability to acquire peripheral information at the perceptual level.

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Neelesh K. Nadkarni, Karl Zabjek, Betty Lee, William E. McIlroy and Sandra E. Black

Changes in gait parameters induced by the concomitant performance of one of two cognitive tasks activating working memory and spatial attention, was examined in healthy young adults (YA) and older adults (OA). There was a main effect of task condition on gait-speed (p = .02), stride-length (p < .001) and double-support time (p = .04) independent of the group. There were no significant differences between working memory and spatial attention associated gait changes. Working-memory and spatial-attention dual-tasking led to a decrease in gait-speed (p = .09 and 0.01) and stride-length (p = .04 and 0.01) and increase in double-support time (p = .01 and 0.03) in YA and decrease in stride-length (p = .04 and 0.01) alone in OA. Cognitive task associated changes in gait may be a function of limited attentional resources irrespective of the type of cognitive task.