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Effects of golf training on cognition in older adults: a randomised controlled trial

Abstract

Background Although research indicates that a physically active lifestyle has the potential to prevent cognitive decline and dementia, the optimal type of physical activity/exercise remains unclear. The present study aimed to determine the cognitive benefits of a golf-training programme in community-dwelling older adults.

Methods We conducted a randomised controlled trial between August 2016 and June 2017 at a general golf course. Participants included 106 Japanese adults aged 65 and older. Participants were randomly assigned to either a 24-week (90–120 min sessions/week) golf-training group or a health education control group. Postintervention changes in Mini-mental State Examination (MMSE) and National Centre for Geriatrics and Gerontology-Functional Assessment Tool scores were regarded as primary outcome measures. Secondary outcome measures included changes in physical performance and Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) scores.

Results A total of 100 participants (golf training, n=53; control, n=47) completed the assessments after the 24-week intervention period. The adherence to the golf programme was 96.2% (51/53 participants). Analysis using linear mixed models revealed that the golf training group exhibited significantly greater improvements in immediate logical memory (p=0.033), delayed logical memory (p=0.009) and composite logical memory (p=0.013) scores than the control group. However, no significant changes in MMSE, word memory, Trail Making Test or Symbol Digital Substitution Test scores were observed. In addition, no significant changes in grip strength, walking speed or GDS were observed.

Conclusions Golf-based exercise interventions may improve logical memory in older adults, but no significant changes in other cognitive tests. Further follow-up investigations are required to determine whether the observed effects are associated with delayed onset of mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease in older adults.

Trial registration number UMIN-CTR UMIN000024797; Pre-results.

  • cognition
  • elderly
  • sport
  • randomised trials
  • physical activity

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