Muscle Strength to Mental Strength: Exercise and Age-Related Cognitive Decline

Rhianna Lovegrove, Mark Bahr

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As the population replacement rate exceeds the birth rate, the median age of
the population in Western countries increases. With increasing age there is a
rise in population disease burden, particularly in mental health. As such,
there is considerable interest in the identification of modifiable factors that
may protect against cognitive aging. In this study, 71 participants, across
three age-balanced groups (young, 18 - 21; middle-aged, 22 - 47 years; older
adults, 48+) were recruited from the general Australian community to examine
the effect of aerobic versus resistance exercise on executive functioning
(EF). As hypothesized, older adults evidenced decline in self-reported executive
functioning (EF) impairment, and some aspects of mental flexibility.
Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) revealed that moderate to
high aerobic exercise engagement, and moderate resistance exercise engagement may be somewhat beneficial for reducing age-associated performance decrements in mental flexibility. A dissociation of mental flexibility from spatio- temporal tracking performance provides support for a modular decline model of cognitive aging.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-795
Number of pages33
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


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