Alfred Brown

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BACKGROUND: The goal of this experiment was to determine the relation between cognition and fitness in the senior citizen population. METHODS: For the purpose of obtaining cognitive abilities, 41 participants completed a written exam called the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA) in a quiet location. No more than one participant was allowed to be in the testing area at a time. Before beginning the exam, participants were asked to complete a consent document. Participants were then asked to complete a series of questions pertaining to visual spatial awareness, memory, naming, attention, language, abstraction, delayed recall, and orientation. After completion, no participant was given his or her individual score and was asked to enter the Biomechanics lab for fitness testing. The fitness test consisted of chair stands, arm curls, grip strength, sit & reach, back scratch, and a two minute step test. Chair stands consisted of having the participants sit in a chair with their arms folded across their chest. They were instructed to stand up from the chair and sit back down as many times as possible in a thirty second period. For thirty seconds, arm curls were done (men were given 5 pound weights. Women were given 2.5 pound weights) starting at a 45 degree angle at the elbow and performed until complete elbow flexion. Grip strength was measured using a hand held dynamometer. Grip strength was measured three times and the average was recorded. For the sit and reach, participants were asked to sit down in a chair, completely extend a knee of their choice, place one hand on top of the other, and reach down the extended leg to touch their toes. The distance from finger to toe was measured with a ruler. Participants were given positive distances if their fingers surpassed the length of their toes and negative distances if their fingers did not reach their toes. Back scratch was measured by having participants place one hand behind their back and the other hand over their shoulder. The distance between the two hands was recorded. Any overlap of the hands resulted in a positive value while any distance between the hands was marked as a negative value. The two minute step test was performed by having each participant stand up and lift their knees in place for two minutes. The number of knee lifts was recorded. RESULTS: 41 people participated in the study (32 females and 9 males). Three participants were African American, two were Middle Eastern, two were Asian, and 34 were Caucasian. All participants were between the ages of 55 and 90 years. The correlation coefficient for the MOCA scores and the scores for the back scratch, two minute step, and smell test were r = 0.043,0.397, and 0.321, respectively. The coefficient for back scratch shows no relationship between MOCA scores. However, the other two variables show a moderate, positive relationship between MOCA scores. The correlation coefficient for chair stands and arm curls in relation to cognitive scores, were r = 0.265 and 0.287, respectively. The scores depict a weak, positive relationship. The correlation coefficient for grip strength and sit and reach were r = -0.143 and r = -0.243, respectively which shows a weak, inverse relationship in regards to cognitive ability versus grip strength and flexibility. CONCLUSION: Results from the research study suggest that cognitive performance may be a slight indicator of fitness performance.


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