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.
Marmeleira is with the Dept. of Sport and Health, and Tlemcani, the Geophysics Center, University of Évora, Évora, Portugal. Melo and Godinho are with the Faculty of Human Kinetics, Technical University of Lisbon, Cruz Quebrada, Portugal.