The effects of acute exercise on category-prompted and consonant-prompted word fluency in an institutionalized elderly sample

Underhill, Susan C. (1996) The effects of acute exercise on category-prompted and consonant-prompted word fluency in an institutionalized elderly sample. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

Regular bouts of strenuous exercise have been associated with improved functional status in the frail elderly. Chronic aerobic exercise has also been linked, though less conclusively, to improved cognitive functioning through improved oxygenation of the brain. A problem arises, however, if the levels of exercise necessary to achieve these improvements are too strenuous to be performed by the very frail elderly. This paper investigates a possible relationship between acute non-strenuous exercise and improved cognitive performance in a sample of institutionalized older adults. The purpose of the present study is to replicate the results from a study conducted by Stones and Dawe (1993). This study will attempt to sort out task order effects that were problematic in the Stones and Dawe study. This will help to investigate the relationships between activity on two cognitive tasks, a category-prompted word fluency test and a consonant-prompted word fluency test. The present study will also attempt to clarify the time parameters of the benefits and to assess the effect of different physical ability levels on the magnitude of the exercise effects. The hypothesis tested is that a 15-minute non-strenuous exercise intervention will be sufficient to produce improved performance on a category-prompted word fluency task but not on a consonant-prompted task. -- Fifty-nine subjects volunteered from three nursing homes in the St. John's, Newfoundland area. The investigator randomly assigned subjects to one of four groups. The two exercise groups were exposed to 15-minutes of non-strenuous exercise. The control groups viewed a 15-minute video of similar exercises. Experimental group 1 and control group 1 completed a category-prompted word fluency task at pretest, immediate posttest, and 30-minute delayed posttest. Experimental group 2 and control group 2 completed a consonant-prompted word fluency task at the three testing times. -- I used a two (group) by two (task) by four (trials) by three (time) repeated measures ANOVA design to assess the effects of exercise on both of the cognitive tasks. This analysis showed no effect of exercise on either cognitive task ( p < .05). -- There was no evidence that supported previous contentions that acute exercise affects category-prompted word fluency. A review of the literature concerning acute exercise indicates that previous findings have yet to replicate improvements on the same cognitive task. -- I performed two stepwise regression analyses to determine which variables contributed most significantly to the differences on the two cognitive tasks. The analysis revealed that activity propensity and financial hardship were the best predictors of category-prompted word fluency. Researchers have not directly studied the influences of these two factors on word fluency. I conclude that the relationship between acute exercise and cognitive performance is not a robust one. A more likely explanation of the relationship is that overall activity level combined with low negative affect influences cognitive functioning in later life. Perhaps by studying these relationships caregivers to the institutionalized elderly will have an indication of who would most benefit from inclusion in different activities.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5892
Item ID: 5892
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 91-104.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Psychology
Science, Faculty of > Psychology
Date: 1996
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Cognition in old age; Exercise therapy for older people; Physical fitness for older people

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