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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 273185, 12 pages
Research Article

Swimming as a Positive Moderator of Cognitive Aging: A Cross-Sectional Study with a Multitask Approach

UMR CNRS 7295, University of Poitiers, Sport Sciences Faculty, Bât. A5, 5 rue Théodore Lefebvre, 86000 Poitiers, France

Received 6 August 2012; Revised 31 October 2012; Accepted 14 November 2012

Academic Editor: Teresa Liu-Ambrose

Copyright © 2012 Amira Abou-Dest 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.


This study examined whether regular swimming in older adults was related to better cognitive functioning and whether there were any global or selective positive effects of this physical activity (PA) on cognition. The cognitive performances of three groups of sixteen volunteer participants (young adults, sedentary older adults, and older adults who regularly practice swimming) were evaluated using a multitask approach. All participants performed a battery of ten tasks: two reaction time tasks assessing information processing speed and eight experimental tasks assessing three executive functions (EFs), (behavioral inhibition, working memory updating, and cognitive flexibility). The results showed that young adults performed significantly better than older adults on all examined cognitive functions. However, in older adults, regular swimming was related to better performance on the three EFs, but not on information processing speed. More precisely, five experimental tasks out of the eight tapping EFs were shown to be sensitive to positive effects from swimming practice. Finally, the demonstrated benefits of swimming on EFs were not necessarily linked to better cardiorespiratory fitness. The present findings illustrate the validity of using a multitask approach in examining the potential benefits of regular PA on cognitive aging.