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The Influence of Agility Training on Physiological and Cognitive Performance

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Final technical rept. Jan-May 2010

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Agility training AT has recently been instituted in several combat athlete communities in hopes of improving combat performance as well as general fitness. AT has been demonstrated to improve performance in agility tests while traditional linear exercise does not. Further, in animal models, while exercise alone offers some neurological benefits, studies suggest a greater benefit from AT. The purpose of this study was to determine how substituting AT for traditional linear running influences physiological and cognitive performance. Forty-one subjects undergoing military technical training were divided randomly into two groups for 6 weeks of physical training PT. One group participated in standard military PT of calisthenics and moderate linear running. A second group duplicated the volume of exercise of the first group, but used AT as their primary mode of PT. Prior to and following training, subjects completed a physical and cognitive battery of serum cortisol, VO2max, vertical jump, reaction time, Illinois Agility Test, body composition, visual vigilance, dichotic listening, and working memory tests. There were significant improvements for the agility group in VO2max, Illinois Agility Test, visual vigilance, and continuous memory. There was a significant increase in time-to-exhaustion for the traditional group. There were strong trends toward the agility group improving more than the traditional group on VO2max p0.12, vertical jump p0.06, Illinois Agility Test p0.07, and continuous memory p0.07. We conclude that AT is as effective or more effective as linear running in enhancing physical fitness. Further, it is potentially more effective than running in enhancing specific measures of physical and cognitive performance, such as physical agility, memory, and vigilance. Consequently, we posit that AT should be a central component of military PT.

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  • Medicine and Medical Research

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