Aerobic fitness and neurocognitive performance in older adults from Kansas and Costa Rica
Salazar Villanea, Mónica
Chacón Araya, Yamileth
Vidoni, Eric D.
Johnson, David K.
Moncada Jiménez, José
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Background and Objectives: There is a dearth of comparative studies on the association between aging, cognitive function and cardiorespiratory fitness in older adults from developed and developing countries. The purpose of the study was to determine the association between aerobic power and neurocognitive performance in older adults from the Kansas (KS, USA) and Costa Rica (CR). Research Design and Methods: In a cross-sectional study, older adults from CR (n = 78) and KS (n = 100) underwent a maximal cardiopulmonary function test to determine aerobic power and a comprehensive battery of cognitive function dimensions including a cognitive screen, and tests of simple speed of processing, spatial visualization, visuospatial processing, episodic memory and verbal abilities, executive functioning and cognitive control, and working memory tasks. Raw data from the dimensions were z-transformed to compute an overall index of global neurocognitive performance. Results: Aerobic power was similar between male and female older adults from CR and KS. Regardless of gender, elderly from CR scored lower in cognitive measures than elderly from KS. For the entire sample, a small correlation was found between aerobic power and Visuospatial processing/fluid ability (r = 0.197, p = 0.009). Discussion and Implications: Elderly males and females from KS and CR reported similar aerobic power. The association between aerobic power and cognitive domains was inconsistent between genders and groups studied. More comparative ethnic/racial studies are needed to determine potential lifestyle factors related to cognitive decline in the elderly living in different societies.