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The Relationship Between Aerobic Exercise and Cognition: Is Movement Medicinal?

Lojovich, Jeanne M. MS, PT, NCS

Section Editor(s): McCulloch, Karen L. PT, PhD, NCS

Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: May-June 2010 - Volume 25 - Issue 3 - p 184–192
doi: 10.1097/HTR.0b013e3181dc78cd

Each year approximately 1.5 million individuals sustain traumatic brain injuries often resulting in difficulties in memory and executive function that limit independence. Aerobic exercise not only has been found to impact cardiovascular systems but has also shown benefits to brain function itself and specifically in the domain of memory and learning. Recent evidence is shedding light on the mechanisms possibly impacting cognitive performance following the participation in exercise. Literature has demonstrated increased hemodynamics within the brain, changes in neurotransmitters, and increasing levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor that stimulates neurogenesis, and resistance to further injury. This review article explores the current literature and the possibility of exercise acting as an adjunct treatment to enhance the effectiveness of cognitive rehabilitation.

University of Minnesota Program in Physical Therapy, Minneapolis.

Corresponding Author: Jeanne M. Lojovich, MS, PT, NCS, University of Minnesota, MMC 388, 420 Delaware St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455 (

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.