Cognitive Function in Response to an Acute, High Intensity Exercise-Does Gender Plays a Role?
The growing evidence favoring the positive effect of exercise on cognition is mostly based on men participants (75%). We therefore exposed females and males to acute exercise and evaluated gender cognitive response to this intervention.
Thirty- two adults (M=17; F=15) ages 18-34 participated in the study. The exercise consisted of ten repetitions: 10 seconds sprints at maximal speed, followed by 50 seconds active recovery. Stroop test (ST) 1-3; Trail-making test (TMT) 1-2; Word fluency were evaluated prior to; immediately post exercise; and at 45’ recovery. Two-way ANOVA with repeated measures (three test points X 2 gender groups) was used to test the effect of exercise on cognitive performance.
All participants reached close to maximal heart rates at the end of the 10th sprint round. Stroop 1- 2 results improved for both males and females from pre to post exercise (p<0.01). After 45’ males returned to pre-exercise while females retained high values. For Stroop 3 both genders improved from pre to post (p<0.01) and retained high values after 45’. For TMT-1 males showed no response while females’ results improved immediately and at 45’ post intervention (p<0.01). For TMT-2 both genders improved after exercise (p<0.01); however, only females continued improving at 45’ recovery. Word fluency was positively affected by exercise in males only.
Acute bout of exercise has a positive immediate effect on cognitive performance both in males and females; whereas males returned to pre-intervention values at 45’ min recovery, females retained the positive effect of exercise also after 45 minutes.
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