The Influence of Social Engagement on Exercise-Associated Cognitive and Affective Changes in Older Adult Women
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Single bouts of aerobic exercise appear to elicit improvements in cognition and affect among older adults, which are dependent on exercise dose (intensity, duration). Social engagement, not typically considered in exercise prescription but often included in exercise delivery, may also influence these outcomes. This study examined the effects of social exercise and solo exercise versus a control on affect and cognition among older adult women. Thirty healthy older adult women were recruited to this study. In a repeated-measures design, participants each completed three sessions: 1) social exercise: moderate intensity treadmill walking with concurrent conversation with another participant; 2) solo exercise: moderate intensity treadmill walking alone; and 3) active control seated and listening to an informative podcast. Order of conditions was counterbalanced. Executive function was assessed immediately before and 10 minutes after each intervention using a modified Eriksen Flanker task. Response time (RT), accuracy, and inverse efficiency score (IES) were calculated from Flanker data. Affect was assessed using the Physical Activity Affect Scale (PAAS) immediately before and after each intervention and at 3-hour intervals throughout the day of intervention and the following day. PAAS subfactors of positive affect, negative affect, tranquility, and fatigue were used in analysis. To better examine variability in RT response to exercise, individual participant response times across conditions and time were examined and used to group participants in an exploratory analysis. Four groupings emerged: 1) Consistent Responders; 2) Social Responders; 3) Solo Responders; 4) Non-Responders. Differences in personality, activity levels, conversation characteristics, sleep, and energy expenditure were examined between groups. Results show higher accuracy in exercise conditions than control, but with no change in RT over time or conditions. There was significantly lower IES in the social condition compared to control, but no difference between exercise conditions. Responder groups varied by personality, exercise history, and social engagement characteristics such that consistent and social responders tended to be more extroverted, agreeable, and conscientious than other groups. Social conversation quality and quantity was also higher among these groups, while contribution to the conversation was lowest. Subjective physical activity levels were highest in the non-responder group. Acute improvements in affect (denoted by higher positive affect and reduced negative affect) occurred following social exercise, but not solo exercise or control. This reduction in negative affect remained until 6h-post social exercise, however positive affect decreased over this time. Overall, results provide only weak support for enhanced executive functions following exercise or social exercise. However, social engagement during exercise may lead to affective improvements, which may be sustained up to 6h-post intervention.
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Teran Nieman (2019). The Influence of Social Engagement on Exercise-Associated Cognitive and Affective Changes in Older Adult Women. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/14907