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Complex mental and physical activity in older women and cognitive performance: a 6-month randomized controlled trial
Klusmann V, Evers A, Schwarzer R, Schlattmann P, Reischies FM, Heuser I, Dimeo FC
The Journals of Gerontology. Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 2010 Jun;65(6):680-688
clinical trial
8/10 [Eligibility criteria: No; Random allocation: Yes; Concealed allocation: Yes; Baseline comparability: Yes; Blind subjects: No; Blind therapists: No; Blind assessors: Yes; Adequate follow-up: Yes; Intention-to-treat analysis: Yes; Between-group comparisons: Yes; Point estimates and variability: Yes. Note: Eligibility criteria item does not contribute to total score] *This score has been confirmed*

BACKGROUND: Several reports suggest beneficial impacts of either physical or mental activity on cognitive function in old age. However, the differential effects of complex mental and physical activities on cognitive performance in humans remain to be clarified. METHODS: This randomized controlled trial evaluates a cognitive and a physical standardized 6-month activity intervention (3x1.5 h/wk) conducted in Berlin (Germany). Two hundred fifty nine healthy women aged 70 to 93 years were randomized to a computer course (n = 92), an exercise course (n = 91), or a control group (n = 76), of whom 230 completed the 6-month assessment. Group differences in change over a period of 6 months in episodic memory (story recall, possible range 0 to 21; word recall, possible range 0 to 16), executive control (working memory, ie, time quotient of Trail Making Tests B/A), and verbal fluency were evaluated by analyses of covariance (intention to treat) adjusting for baseline, fluid intelligence, and educational level. RESULTS: In contrast to the control group, both the exercise group, delta mean (SD) 2.09 (2.66), p < 0.001, and the computer group, delta mean (SD) 1.89 (2.88), p < 0.001, showed improved delayed story recall. They maintained performance in delayed word recall and working memory (time measure) as opposed to the control group that showed a decline, delta mean (SD) -0.91 (2.15), p = 0.001, and delta mean (SD) 0.24 (0.68), p = 0.04, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: In healthy older women, participation in new stimulating activities contributes to cognitive fitness and might delay cognitive decline. Exercise and computer classes seem to generate equivalent beneficial effects.
Copyright the Gerontological Society of America. Reproduced by permission of the publisher.

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