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01.12.2017 | Review article | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

European Review of Aging and Physical Activity 1/2017

Does physical activity benefit motor performance and learning of upper extremity tasks in older adults? – A systematic review

European Review of Aging and Physical Activity > Ausgabe 1/2017
Lena Hübner, Claudia Voelcker-Rehage


Upper extremity motor performance declines with increasing age. However, older adults need to maintain, learn new and relearn known motor tasks. Research with young adults indicated that regular and acute physical activity might facilitate motor performance and motor learning processes. Therefore, this review aimed to examine the association between chronic physical activity and acute bouts of exercise on motor performance and motor learning in upper extremity motor tasks in older adults. Literature was searched via Cochrane library, PubMED, PsycINFO and Scopus and 27 studies met all inclusion criteria. All studies dealt with the influence of chronic physical activity on motor performance or motor learning, no appropriate study examining the influence of an acute bout of exercise in older adults was found. Results concerning the association of chronic physical activity and motor performance are mixed and seem to be influenced by the study design, kind of exercise, motor task, and exercise intensity. Regarding motor learning, a high physical activity or cardiovascular fitness level seems to boost the initial phase of motor learning; results differ with respect to motor retention. Overall, (motor-coordinative) intervention studies seem to be more promising than cross-sectional studies.

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