This cross-sectional study investigated the interactive dual-task (DT) effects of executive function demands and environmental constraints on older adults' walking and the moderating role of habitual physical activity (PA). Locomotor performance under different environmental constraints (flat versus obstructed walking) and cognitive performance with different executive function involvement (backward counting versus random number generation) were assessed under single-task (ST) and DT conditions in 135 participants (mean age 68.1 ± 8.4). The weekly number of daily steps was measured. Reciprocal DT effects of walking on cognitive performance and of the cognitive task on gait performance were computed and submitted to analyses of covariance with age, PA level, and cognitive functioning as covariates, followed by linear regressions with PA level as predictor. Cognitive task demands and environmental constraints individually and jointly affected gait variability (p = 0.033, ηp2 = 0.08) and executive function performance (p = 0.009, ηp2 = 0.09). Physical activity level predicted a low but significant percentage of variance of DT effects on gait only in flat walking (R2 = 0.04, p = 0.027). Results suggest that older individuals may adopt variable task prioritization in dual tasking depending on the type of executive function involvement and the environmental constraints on walking. Their DT ability was slightly affected by habitual PA.
How older adults cope with motor-cognitive complexity during dual task walking: the role of executive function involvement / Forte, R; Pesce, C; Di Baldassarre, A; Shea, J; Voelcker-Rehage, C; Capranica, L; Condello, G. - In: INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH AND PUBLIC HEALTH. - ISSN 1660-4601. - 16:10(2019), p. 1835. [10.3390/ijerph16101835]
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