Dual-task effects of concurrently coupling aerobic exercise with virtual navigation
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Aerobic exercise is a modifiable lifestyle factor that is important for maintaining or improving both physical health and brain health. Maintaining or improving executive function throughout the lifespan is a prominent area of focus for academic research as the global population ages. Both executive training and aerobic exercise, in and of themselves, have been shown to be means of improving executive function. There has since been a focus on combining exercise and executive challenge to determine if this provides an additive benefit to executive ability. What is often overlooked, however, is how the concurrent exercise-executive challenge effects the outcome of the exercise itself, which is important as improving aerobic capacity is a goal of rehabilitation. Therefore, the purpose of this thesis was to investigate dual-task trade-off effects that occur when concurrently coupling aerobic cycling with a virtual navigation task. The primary aim of this work is to characterize behavioural parameters of both the cycling and navigation tasks, as well as the impact to the physiological parameters of the exercise. Study 1 was designed to describe the behavioural components of exercise and heart rate with respect to different concurrent executive demands. Study 2 was designed to inform the methodological task considerations of the virtual navigation task(s) that would be used in subsequent studies. Study 3 specifically examined dual-task trade-off effects of virtual navigation coupled with aerobic cycling on navigation performance, cycling cadence and heart rate, while Study 4 extended the work of Study 3 by examining if dual-task trade-off effects would be ameliorated with repeated exposure to the tasks. Overall, the findings of these studies show that young health adults are able to concurrently perform a virtual navigation task with an aerobic challenge, but that the task demands and design will directly impact performance of the exercise and the associated heart rates achieved. Moreover, despite the concurrent challenge being overall more demanding of mental resources, this was the task that the majority of participants found most enjoyable overall. Findings from this thesis provide a basic framework from which other dual-task exercise-executive challenge paradigms can be designed, and can inform task design considerations.
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Laura Williams (2021). Dual-task effects of concurrently coupling aerobic exercise with virtual navigation. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/16838