The aim of this study is to answer the question whether the strength of the knee extensor musculus quadriceps (m. quadriceps), in particular, is related to specific executive functions and whether this relationship is independent of aerobic fitness. The clinical relevance of this question is that the m. quadriceps can still be trained in older people and executive functions are the most vulnerable to processes of aging. In 41 cognitively intact older women, cognitive functioning was assessed by neuropsychological tests; isometric and isotonic quadriceps strength by the Quadrisotester and the 30-sec chair-stand test, respectively; and aerobic fitness by the 6-min walk test. A significant proportion of the total variance of the executive functions, attention/working memory and inhibition, were explained by isometric/isotonic knee extensor strength and aerobic fitness, respectively. Extensor muscle strength, aerobic fitness, or one or more interactions did not explain a significant proportion of the total variance of other cognitive functions.
These data suggest that in older women, quadriceps strength is associated with the executive function, attention/working memory, and that this effect is independent of aerobic fitness, which seems to be associated more strongly with inhibition, another executive function.
Scherder EJA, Eggermont LHP, Geuze RH, PhD, Vis J, Verkerke GJ. Quadriceps strength and executive functions in older women. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, June 2010 89(6), 458-463