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Rebecca Reed-Jones, Sandor Dorgo, Ashley Bangert; Exercise increases visual cognition in older adults. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):488. doi: 10.1167/13.9.488.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Impaired vision is a significant independent risk factor for falls among older adults. Impaired vision is also associated with reduced spatial cognition in frequent fallers. Despite the evidence of a strong influence of visual cognitive factors on fall risk in older adults, most guidelines for fall prevention still only focus on visual acuity and corrective eyewear. Regular physical activity alleviates some of the issues related to falls risk (e.g. increased muscle strength, improved neuromuscular control, and reduced reaction time). Increased physical activity may also increase blood flow in the hippocampus, suggesting physical activity can improve spatial cognition. However, it is currently unknown how visual cognition changes with regular exercise participation. The purpose of the current study was to examine changes in visual cognition following a 12-week exercise intervention program. Thirty-four independent living older adults age 60 years or above participated in the study. Participants were involved in a 12-week program focusing on cardio-, strength- and balance-training of two sessions per week, 90 minutes per session. Tests of visual cognition included the Useful Field of View (UFOV) test, Simon task, and the number of obstacle collisions on an obstacle course. All tests were given Pre (prior to the intervention) and Post (at week 12) of the program. Results indicated that following 12-weeks of physical activity all measures of visual cognition improved. Divided attention of the UFOV significantly improved Pre to Post testing (p <0.05). Also, significant increases in accuracy and decreases in reaction time on the Simon task were observed (p <0.05). Finally, older adults significantly reduced the number of collisions with obstacles from Pre to Post testing (p <0.001). These results suggest that regular physical activity benefits visual cognition in older adults, especially in the domain of spatial processing.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013
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