Resistance Exercise May Improve Spatial Awareness and Visual Reaction in Older Adults

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Abstract

Fragala, MS, Beyer, KS, Jajtner, AR, Townsend, JR, Pruna, GJ, Boone, CH, Bohner, JD, Fukuda, DH, Stout, JR, and Hoffman, JR. Resistance exercise may improve spatial awareness and visual reaction in older adults. J Strength Cond Res 28(8): 2079–2087, 2014—Aerobic exercise has been shown to counteract age-related neurological decrements that are associated with cognitive and physical impairments. However, the effects of resistance exercise on cognition, reaction, and neurotrophins are largely unknown. We examined changes in spatial awareness, visual and motor reaction, and circulating brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in response to a resistance exercise intervention in older adults (aged 70.6 ± 6.1 years). Spatial awareness was evaluated before and after training with a Neurotracker perceptual 3-dimensional object-tracking device. Peripheral, visual, motor, and physical reaction times were evaluated using a Dynavision visuomotor device. Circulating BDNF was assayed. Data were analyzed for clinical significance using magnitude-based inferences calculated from independent t-tests. Clinical interpretations of the analyses revealed that resistance exercise training was “likely beneficial” for improving spatial awareness and visual and physical reaction times. Each improved by 40.0, 14.6, and 14.0%, respectively. Circulating BDNF and motor reaction time displayed no apparent meaningful changes. Thus, resistance exercise training may be an effective means to preserve or improve spatial awareness and reaction with aging.

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