Objective: With the graying of America, there is increased focus on the cognitive and emotional changes that can occur later in life. The Interactive Physical and Cognitive Exercise Study (iPACES™) analyzes aging in older adults through the pedaling of an under-table stationary elliptical while simultaneously engaging in a computer game on a portable tablet, challenging executive functioning skills. Prior research has revealed that older adults who simultaneously pedaled on a stationary bike while engaging in a virtual game improved more in cognitive domains than those who rode a traditional stationary bike (Anderson-Hanley et al., 2012). The current research examined the neuropsychological benefits of an interactive physical and mental exercise system for older adults, with a focus on mood and executive function. It was predicted that cognition and mood would improve simultaneously following a period of combined mental and physical exercise with the iPACES™, than during periods of either mental or physical exercise alone.
Methods: Participants in the study were co-residing pairs of older adults who were trained to use the iPACES 3-5x/week for 3 months Participants were exposed to four different conditions: (1) a placebo, (2) physical exercise with an under-desk pedaler, (3) the cognitive MemoryLane™ game on a tablet, and (4) iPACES™ (which combines both #2 and #3). Before and after each condition, participants’ neuropsychological functioning was assessed using a battery of cognitive tests (e.g., Stroop, Trails, Flanker, ADAS, MoCA). Participants also completed the Brunel Mood Scale and the Exercise Induced Feeling Inventory (EIFI) to assess mood.
Results: Participants are still being enrolled with a goal of following five pairs (n = 10); at present three pairs have begun the interventions (n = 6). Findings are expected to reveal that individuals improved both in cognition and mood after exposure to iPACES™.
Discussion: The findings will hopefully indicate that interactive physical and cognitive exercise may be a beneficial method of affecting the cognitive and emotional function in older adults. Future research should examine whether it is actually the influence of mood on cognition or vice versa that is yielding such beneficial outcomes.