The primary outcome of interest is an overall cognitive composite score measured after the completion of the exercise intervention (i.e., at 6 months). Participants allocated to the aerobic exercise intervention will be compared to those allocated to the stretching-toning exercise one. The cognitive composite score incorporates five cognitive domains and their respective tests listed as follows:

Executive function: verbal fluency, Trail Making Test – part B (TMT-B)

Visual perceptual skills: Line Orientation, and Card Rotations Test

Complex attention: Digit and Sustained Attention to Responding Task (SART)

Processing speed: Symbol-Digit Modalities Test (oral and written; SDMT-O/-W) and the Trail Making Test – part A (TMT-A)

Memory: Hopkins Verbal Learning Test (HVLT) and Brief Visuospatial Memory Test – Revised (BVMT-R)

Raw scores of each cognitive test will be transformed to a common metric based on standard scores (Z scores). Z scores will be calculated by subtracting the normative mean (retrieved from prior studies or observations) from each participant’s component test score [59]. This difference will then be divided by the standard deviation of the normative sample [59]. Z scores from each cognitive test will be summed (i.e., each domain will be equally weighted), averaged within each of the five domains to obtain a domain score, and then compared statistically across the two interventions (aerobic vs stretching-toning) [60]. Apart from considering the overall cognitive composite score, specific domains hypothesized to be most sensitive to the aerobic exercise intervention (e.g., executive functioning and processing speed) will be analysed as secondary outcomes.

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