Effect of aerobic exercise on tracking performance in elderly people: A pilot study

R. C. Bakken, J. R. Carey, R. P. Di Fabio, T. J. Erlandson, J. L. Hake, T. W. Intihar

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41 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose. Although much is known about the benefits of aerobic exercise on cardiovascular health, little research has been done on the effect of aerobic exercise on motor performance. This study examined whether aerobic exercise has an effect on visuospatial information processing during finger-movement tracking in elderly subjects. Subjects. Fifteen elderly subjects (mean age=83.2 years, SD=5.7, range=72-91) from a senior housing complex were randomly assigned to a control group or an experimental (exercise) group. Twelve subjects completed the study, and data obtained for 10 subjects were used for data analysis (2 control subjects were eliminated to allow for matched-pairs analysis between the experimental and control groups). The control group (n=5) had a mean age of 80.2 years (SD=7.8). Subjects in the experimental group (n=5) had a mean age of 84.8 years (SD=2.5). Methods. The intervention consisted of group exercise 3 times a week for 8 consecutive weeks, and included calisthenics (eg, marching in place, side stepping, mock boxing), stationary bicycling, and walking. A finger-movement tracking test and submaximal graded exercise tolerance step tests were performed before and after training to determine changes in finger-movement tracking and any aerobic training effects. Results. Matched-pairs t tests showed a difference in tracking from pretest to posttest in the experimental group compared with the control group. Step test performance did not differ between the 2 groups. Discussion and Conclusion. The results of this small-scale study with a limited number of subjects indicate that, for elderly people, finger-movement tracking performance can improve with aerobic exercise, despite the absence of an aerobic training effect. Possible mechanisms for the treatment effect on information processing are discussed. [Bakken RC, Carey JR, Di Fabio RP, et al. Effect of aerobic exercise on tracking performance in elderly people: a pilot study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1870-1879
Number of pages10
JournalPhysical therapy
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Aerobic exercise
  • Elderly
  • Information processing
  • Tracking


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