Marianna Liparoti


Walking is a task that is typically performed simultaneously with other tasks. This condition recalls the same features of an experimental paradigm known as "Dual Task" (DT), which is an excellent strategy for investigating the role of cognitive functions during walking. Current research is focusing on what are the best strategies for enhancing DT skills. From these researches it emerged that physical exercise (PE) is an excellent ecological strategy capable of directly acting on both motor and cognitive functions. In the present study, we investigated the influence of unimodal and multimodal PE on the ability to walk while performing a DT paradigm. For this purpose, a 3D motion analysis was performed in three groups of participants: Tai Chi, runners and naïve control groups. Participants were asked to walk while performing simultaneously a motor or cognitive secondary task. The harmonic ratio, a synthetic index able to provide information on dynamic stability and fluidity of movements during walking, was calculated. The results showed that the HR of the trunk in medio-lateral direction was significantly lower both in runners and controls than in the Tai Chi practitioners group. The cognitive task seems to have a greater weight than the motor one. Finally, the results showed that the Tai Chi group has a better ability to perform cognitive DT than the other groups. The results of this study support the improvements in executive function induced by Tai Chi practice.

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