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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Tennis or swimming – which improves your attention span?

A study published by international research journal BMC Geriatrics has found that older people who take part in “closed-skilled” physical activity like swimming benefit from better selective attention and visuospatial function.

Researchers involved in the study recruited 61 participants aged 65 years and over – all without medical conditions affecting their physical and cognitive function. All participants underwent a two-hour assessment session involving the completion of seven standardised cognitive function assessments, which were used to assess a range of cognitive function.

“Physical activity can be classified as open-skilled or closed-skilled.”

“This study examined the effects of participation in open and closed-skilled physical activity on the cognitive function of older adults,” it said.

The study found that open-skilled physical activity, such as tennis, was associated with better inhibition, visual tracking, and cognitive flexibility while closed-skilled physical activity was associated with better selective attention and visuospatial perception.

“Open-skilled physical activity, like tennis, require participants to perform within a dynamic setting and respond to unpredictable and frequent environmental changes throughout the activity.”

“Closed-skilled types of physical activity, such as swimming, are predictable and self-directed.”

It said physical activity intensity and frequency were significantly correlated with a range of cognitive functions in older people.

“Although much further investigation is required for a thorough understanding of this area, this study contributes important findings of the benefits of both open and closed-skilled physical activity participation by older adults for a range of cognitive function measures.”

“Overall mean scores across all of the assessments showed superior performance for the open or closed-skilled participants when compared with the no-physical-activity group.”

“The findings have important practical implications for the health and quality of life of ageing populations, knowing which particular types of physical activity might affect the cognitive function.”

It said the preliminary study suggests that, in accordance with previous research, physical activity may have selectively beneficial effects on cognitive function in over 65s.

“Although much further investigation is required for a thorough understanding of this area, this study contributes important findings of the benefits of both open and closed-skilled physical activity participation by older adults for a range of cognitive function measures.”

You can read more about the study at this link: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12877-020-01620-w

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