Effects of different types of physical activity on the cognitive functions and attention in older people: A randomized controlled study

Exp Gerontol. 2015 Oct:70:105-10. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2015.07.008. Epub 2015 Jul 13.


This study aimed to evaluate the effects of different types of exercise on cognition. Eighty participants, 32 males and 48 females, aged 66.96 ± 11.73, volunteered for this study. The participants were randomly divided into the four following groups: Resistance Group (RG; n=20), involved in high intensity strength training; Cardiovascular Group (CVG; n=20), involved in high intensity cardiovascular training; Postural Group (PG; n=20) involved in low intensity training, based on postural and balance exercises; and Control Group (CG; n=20). Exercises were performed over the course of 12 weeks. All participants were tested for their cognitive functions pre- and post-intervention using the following neurocognitive tests: the Attentive Matrices Test, Raven's Progressive Matrices, Stroop Color and Word Interference Test, Trail Making Test and Drawing Copy Test. Statistical analysis showed that the CVG group improved significantly in the Attentive Matrices Test and Raven's Progressive Matrices (both p=<0.05), whereas the RG group improved in Drawing Copy Test time (p=<0.05). These results confirm that different types of exercise interventions have unique effects on cognition. Cardiovascular training is effective in improving performance attentive and analytic tasks, whereas resistance training is effective in improving praxis. Further investigation is necessary to evaluate the combination of the two exercise types in order to ascertain if their respective effects can be summated when performed together.

Keywords: Cognition; Cognitive impairment; Elderly; High intensity; Physical training.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / physiopathology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / psychology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / rehabilitation*
  • Exercise Test / methods
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Postural Balance / physiology
  • Resistance Training / methods