Liam McAuliffe, Gaynor C. Parfitt, Roger G. Eston, Caitlin Gray, Hannah A. D. Keage and Ashleigh E. Smith
BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation

Exercise adherence in already low-active older adults with and without mild cognitive impairment (MCI) remains low. Perceptual regulation and exergaming may facilitate future exercise behaviour by improving the affective experience, however evidence that this population can perceptually regulate is lacking. To explore this, we investigated 1) perceptual regulation of exercise intensity during either exergaming or regular ergometer cycling and 2) explored affective responses.

Thirty-two low active older adults (73.9 ± 7.3 years, n = 16, 8 females) with or without MCI (70.9 ± 5.5 years, n = 16, 11 females) participated in a sub-maximal fitness assessment to determine ventilatory threshold (VT) and two experimental sessions (counterbalanced: exergaming or regular ergometer cycling). Experimental sessions consisted 21-min of continuous cycling with 7-min at each: RPE 9, 11 and 13. Oxygen consumption (VO2), heart rate (HR), and affect (Feeling Scale) were obtained throughout the exercise.

VO2 (p < 0.01) and HR (p < 0.01) increased linearly with RPE, but were not significantly different between exercise modes or cognitive groups. At RPE 13, participants worked above VT in both modes (exergaming: 115.7 ± 27.3; non-exergaming 114.1 ± 24.3 VO2 (%VT)). Regardless of cognitive group, affect declined significantly as RPE increased (p < 0.01). However on average, affect remained pleasant throughout and did not differ between exercise modes or cognitive groups.

These results suggest low-active older adults can perceptually regulate exercise intensity, regardless of cognition or mode. At RPE 13, participants regulated above VT, at an intensity that improves cardiorespiratory fitness long-term, and affect remained positive in the majority of participants, which may support long-term physical activity adherence.

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