The Healthy Mind, Healthy Mobility Trial: A Novel Exercise Program for Older Adults

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Abstract

Background

More evidence is needed to conclude that a specific program of exercise and/or cognitive training warrants prescription for the prevention of cognitive decline. We examined the effect of a group-based standard exercise program for older adults, with and without dual-task training, on cognitive function in older adults without dementia.

Methods

We conducted a proof-of-concept, single-blinded, 26-wk randomized controlled trial whereby participants recruited from preexisting exercise classes at the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging in London, Ontario, were randomized to the intervention group (exercise + dual-task [EDT]) or the control group (exercise only [EO]). Each week (2 or 3 d·wk−1), both groups accumulated a minimum of 50 min of aerobic exercise (target 75 min) from standard group classes and completed 45 min of beginner-level square-stepping exercise. The EDT group was also required to answer cognitively challenging questions while doing beginner-level square-stepping exercise (i.e., dual-task training). The effect of interventions on standardized global cognitive function (GCF) scores at 26 wk was compared between the groups using the linear mixed effects model approach.

Results

Participants (n = 44; 68% female; mean [SD] age: 73.5 [7.2] yr) had on average, objective evidence of cognitive impairment (Montreal Cognitive Assessment scores, mean [SD]: 24.9 [1.9]) but not dementia (Mini-Mental State Examination scores, mean [SD]: 28.8 [1.2]). After 26 wk, the EDT group showed greater improvement in GCF scores compared with the EO group (difference between groups in mean change [95% CI]: 0.20 SD [0.01–0.39], P = 0.04).

Conclusions

A 26-wk group-based exercise program combined with dual-task training improved GCF in community-dwelling older adults without dementia.

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