Mandy Knoll – Institute for Sport Science at Otto-von-Guericke University in Magdeburg, Germany
Physical activity and cognitive training have proved to be encouraging methods to affect positively age-related structural and functional brain changes. A combination of physical and cognitive strains seems to be the most effective method. Dancing conforms to this method because it combines motor and cognitive strains. In this way, it plays an important role for prevention of age-related degenerative changes in motor, neurophysiological as well as neuropsychological parameters in older people. The abstract represents a review of benefits of different physical exercises in contrast to physical inactivity on specific parameters in old age. The object of the research is to compare the effects of dancing with endurance and strength training and physical inactivity on motor functions, such as endurance and balance abilities, on cognitive functions, such as memory, processing speed, concentration, attention, intelligence and spatial navigation, as well as on neurophysiological parameters, such as brain volumes and BDNF factor. Another aim is to investigate different effects of short term and long term physical exercise on these parameters. Using different scientific databases, relevant studies that fulfil certain inclusion criteria will be involved. The selected studies which deal with effects of dancing or endurance and strength training or physical inactivity on motor functions, cognitive functions and neurophysiological parameters will be analyzed. Physical activity in the form of endurance and strength training, leading to a high level of cardiorespiratory fitness, represents an important non-pharmacological preventive method against cognitive decline and consequently the occurrence of neuro-degenerative diseases in the third age (Gregory et al., 2012). A few studies showed even greater effects if physical exercises included both, conditional and coordinative strains, which contains a motor and an additional cognitive task, such as dance training (Shatil, 2013). Unfortunately, positive tendencies in brain volumes for dancers could not be transferred to significant benefits in cognitive functions (Rehfeld et al., 2014; Rehfeld et al., 2017). Further research is needed, to show coherences between benefits in motor abilities, neurophysiological parameters and cognitive functions. To reveal those coherences and to differentiate effects of long term dance training and long term endurance or strength training in comparison to physical inactivity, we will conduct a long term study, that will compare 30 long term dancers with 30 long term active controls and 30 inactive controls at a specific point of time as well as in a temporal progress of five years according to motor and cognitive parameters and with regard to neurophysiological changes.