Older adults experience greater cognitive motor interference (CMI) due to declines in cognitive and physical function. Although aerobic fitness has beneficial effects on cognition, its association with CMI is not clear.
This study aims to investigate the effects of aerobic fitness on CMI during self-paced treadmill walking in older adults.
Thirty participants (67.6 ± 10.34 years, 21 females) were included in a 2-day cross-sectional design study. Aerobic fitness was assessed with the Rockport 1-mile test. The dual-task paradigm consisted of walking only, and dual-task standing and dual-task walking (i.e., standing/walking while performing the Modified Stroop color word test) on a treadmill. To assess CMI, gait speed and accuracy rate were measured to later calculate the dual-task cost for each parameter.
Individuals with low aerobic fitness exhibited significantly greater gait speed dual-task cost than individuals with high aerobic fitness (p < 0.05). There were no significant findings for accuracy rate dual-task cost.
These study findings are the first to demonstrate increases in CMI in relation to low aerobic fitness. Results can be attributed to the relationship between aerobic fitness and cognition as well as theories related to attentional capacity.
Older adults with low aerobic fitness possess greater CMI when compared to older adults with high aerobic fitness. This provides a foundation of knowledge on how aerobic fitness in older adults may affect CMI which can lead researchers to examine the causal relationships between an aerobic exercise intervention program and CMI in older adults.