Cognitive and biomarker responses in healthy older adults to a 18-hole golf round and different walking types: A randomised cross-over study

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Abstract

Introduction The global burden of age-related cognitive decline is increasing, with the number of people aged 60 and over expected to double by 2050. This study compares the acute effects of age-appropriate cognitively demanding aerobic exercises involving walking, on cognitive functions and exerkine responses such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and cathepsin B (CTSB) in older, healthy adults. Methods/design Healthy older golfers (n=25, 16 male and 9 female, 69±4 years) were enrolled in a 5-day randomised cross-over study and completed three different exercise trials (18-hole golf round, 6 km Nordic walking, 6 km walking) in a real-life environment, in random order and at a self-selected pace. Differences in cognition (the Trail-Making Test (TMT) AB) and exerkines (BDNF and CTSB) were analysed within groups using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test and between groups using the Kruskal-Wallis test. Results All exercise types resulted in a significant decrease in the TMT A-test (p<0.05; golf: -4.43±1.5 s, Nordic walking: -4.63±1.6 s, walking: -6.75±2.26 s), where Nordic walking and walking demonstrated a decrease in the TMT B-test (p<0.05; Nordic walking: -9.62±7.2 s, walking: -7.55±3.2 s). In addition, all exercise types produced significant decreases in the TMT AB test scores (p<0.05), and Nordic walking (p=0.035) showed decreases in the TMTB-TMTA-test. There were no immediate postexercise changes in the levels of BDNF or CTSB. Conclusion Acute bouts of golf, Nordic walking and walking improved cognitive functions irrespective of exerkines in healthy older adults. In addition, Nordic walking and walking in general enhanced executive functions. No significant effects were seen on the levels of BDNF and CTSB. Trial registration number ISRCTN10007294.

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Kettinen, J., Tikkanen, H., Hiltunen, M., Murray, A., Horn, N., Taylor, W. R., & Venojärvi, M. (2023). Cognitive and biomarker responses in healthy older adults to a 18-hole golf round and different walking types: A randomised cross-over study. BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine, 9(4). https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjsem-2023-001629

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