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Fitness, Self-efficacy, and Cognitive Performance in Older Adults: 2904Board#179 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Hess, Jennifer; Morris, Katherine; Doerksen, Shawna; Buck, Sarah; Themanson, Jason; Pontifex, Matthew; Hillman, Charles; McAuley, Edward; Evans, E. M. FACSM

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2006 - Volume 38 - Issue 5 - p S569
Saturday Morning Poster Presentations: Posters displayed from 7:30–11:00 a.m.: One-hour author presentation times are staggered from 8:00–9:00 a.m., 9:00–10:00 a.m., and 10:00–11:00 a.m.: G-19 Free Communication/Poster – Physical Activity, Cognition and Cognitive Function: SATURDAY, JUNE 3, 2006 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM ROOM: Hall B

University of Illinois, Urbana, IL.


Although physical fitness and self-efficacy have been associated with cognitive function, little effort has been made to determine whether these factors influence function independent of each other in older adults.

PURPOSE: To examine the independent contributions of self-efficacy and fitness to performance on challenging and non-challenging cognitive processing tasks. Additionally, we examined the influence of performance on subsequent efficacy.

METHODS: Older adults (N = 57, M age = 65.60) enrolled in a structured exercise program completed the Flanker task using both congruent and incongruent trials, following an acute exercise bout. Self-efficacy for both exercise and cognitive performance were assessed, prior to and following the exercise bout and cognitive task, respectively. Fitness was assessed using a maximal graded exercise test. The role of efficacy and fitness in accuracy of responding and the role of accuracy in predicting post-performance self-efficacy was examined using hierarchical multiple regression.

RESULTS: Only exercise self-efficacy was a significant predictor of cognitive performance on incongruent trials (β=.31, p<.05) and congruent trials (β=.28, p<.05). However, efficacy for cognitive performance approached significance on incongruent trials (β=.23, p=.08). After controlling for baseline values of self-efficacy, cognitive performance was a significant predictor of post-performance cognitive efficacy in the incongruent (β= .29, p<.001) and congruent task (β=.26, p<.01).

CONCLUSIONS: Self-efficacy and cognitive function are consistently related across task complexity. These findings support a social cognitive perspective in which past behavior is the strongest predictor of subsequent efficacy cognitions. Future research examining the nature of the relationships between fitness, psychosocial constructs and cognitive performance in older adults is warranted.

This study was funded by the National Institute on Aging (AG021188)

© 2006 American College of Sports Medicine