A Physically Active Lifestyle Can Protect against Age-Related Decline in Ankle Proprioception

Jacquelyn V.L. Sertic, Nicole Fall, Jürgen Konczak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study examined whether physically active middle-aged (50-64 years) and older adults (65-80 years) demonstrate age-related ankle proprioceptive decline relative to younger counterparts. Empirical data indicate that ankle proprioception declines with aging and such sensory decline negatively affects balance. Using a passive motion apparatus, we employed a psychophysical forced-choice paradigm in which the ankle was passively plantarflexed to a reference position (15° or 25°) and a comparison position that was always smaller than the reference. Subsequently, participants indicated which position was more plantarflexed. As outcome measures of ankle position sense acuity, a just-noticeable-difference (JND) threshold and the uncertainty area (UA) were derived from the psychometric stimulus-response difference function for each participant. The JND threshold is a measure of proprioceptive bias and UA constitutes a measure of precision. The main results are: First, at the 15° reference, most middle-aged (74%) and older adults (71%) had thresholds within the range of the young adults. The respective median JND threshold of young adults was statistically lower when compared to both older groups. Second, no differences between age groups were observed at the 25° reference. Third, no age-related differences were found for UA at either reference. These data indicate that physically active aging adults may be spared from age-related decline in ankle position sense and that age-related differences emerge for small ankle displacements. The findings underscore the importance of remaining active during aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-314
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Motor Behavior
Volume56
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Keywords

  • aging
  • human
  • physical activity
  • proprioception

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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