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BioMed Research International
Volume 2016, Article ID 5812092, 12 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/5812092
Research Article

Effects of Physical-Cognitive Dual Task Training on Executive Function and Gait Performance in Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Department of Movement, Human and Health Sciences, University of Rome Foro Italico, Rome, Italy

Received 1 June 2016; Revised 19 September 2016; Accepted 25 October 2016

Academic Editor: David C. Hughes

Copyright © 2016 S. Falbo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Physical and cognitive training seem to counteract age-related decline in physical and mental function. Recently, the possibility of integrating cognitive demands into physical training has attracted attention. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of twelve weeks of designed physical-cognitive training on executive cognitive function and gait performance in older adults. Thirty-six healthy, active individuals aged 72.30 ± 5.84 years were assigned to two types of physical training with major focus on physical single task (ST) training () and physical-cognitive dual task (DT) training (), respectively. They were tested before and after the intervention for executive function (inhibition, working memory) through Random Number Generation and for gait (walking with/without negotiating hurdles) under both single and dual task (ST, DT) conditions. Gait performance improved in both groups, while inhibitory performance decreased after exercise training with ST focus but tended to increase after training with physical-cognitive DT focus. Changes in inhibition performance were correlated with changes in DT walking performance with group differences as a function of motor task complexity (with/without hurdling). The study supports the effectiveness of group exercise classes for older individuals to improve gait performance, with physical-cognitive DT training selectively counteracting the age-related decline in a core executive function essential for daily living.