Purpose: The study aimed to provide evidence-based recommendations for the prescription of a single session of exercise to improve cognitive performance. In particular, the purpose was to determine the dose-response relationship between exercise duration and cognitive performance for a moderate intensity session of aerobic exercise.
Methods: Twenty-six healthy young men participated in a reading control treatment and three exercise treatments presented in random order. The exercise treatments were designed based upon ACSM guidelines and consisted of a 5-min warm-up, a 5-min cool-down, and cycling at moderate intensity (approximately 65% heart rate reserve) for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or 45 minutes. The Stroop Test was administrated following completion of each assigned treatment.
Results: Exercise at moderate intensity for 20 minutes resulted in significantly better cognitive performance as assessed by shorter response time and higher accuracy. This result was found regardless of the type of cognitive function assessed. Additionally, a curvilinear dose-response relationship was observed between exercise duration and cognitive performance.
Conclusions: An exercise session consisting of a 5-min warm-up, 20 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, and a 5-min cool-down improves cognition; whereas shorter or longer durations of moderate exercise have negligible benefits. This study provides the foundation for the prescription of a single session of moderate exercise to facilitate cognitive function in healthy younger adults.
(C) 2014 American College of Sports Medicine