Physical Activity, Exercise Physiology, Movement
The Effects of Acute Exercise on Executive Function in Older Adults
(School of Public Health (UMD) Kinesiology Undergraduate Student)
Objectives. This study aims to expand the growing knowledge on the protective effects of physical activity on such cognitive decreases, as well as the ability of acute exercise to promote increased performance in cognitive and executive function processes. Approach. Healthy, older adults (n=12) completed exercise (30-min stationary bike) and rest (30-min seated rest) sessions followed by administration of the Stroop and Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT). Physical activity levels were measured objectively via motion Actigraphy watch. Findings. Following acute exercise, subjects displayed significantly lower interference scores as compared to rest. In addition, objectively measured sedentary time was significantly negatively correlated with post-exercise oral SDMT scores. Conclusions. This study indicates that acute exercise may induce cognitive benefits, as seen in an executive function task of inhibitory control. Further, results suggest that sedentary time has a significant effect on post-exercise cognitive performance on a working memory task (SDMT). Public Health Significance. As we age, the brain undergoes general, yet robust alterations in neurological structure, placing the older adult population particularly at-risk for cognitive decline. Executive function, a spectrum of higher order processes and supervisory tasks, has been found to be disproportionately susceptible to age-induced performance declines. These findings suggest that exercise can play a role in protecting and enhancing cognitive health for the aging brain.