The Science Journal of the Lander College of Arts and Sciences


Avi Derkhidam


Physical exercise has been applauded for its beneficial cardiovascular and mental effects for decades. Recently, researchers have begun to study exercise from a different perspective, focusing on the positive relationship between exercise and cognition. One area of cognition highlighted in association with exercise is its positive impact on executive function. Executive function refers to the collection of neurocognitive processes involved in goal-directed problem-solving. Improved levels of cognitive function have been found to impact significant achievements throughout life. Because of this, the development, improvement, and preservation of these functions are essential. While research has proven a correlation between exercise and improved cognition, the different aspects that might influence its effectiveness are currently unclear. This research paper comprehensively analyzes various factors such as type, intensity, and age groups that may modulate exercise’s effect on cognitive and executive functions. Aerobic exercise was found to improve blood flow and increased transportation of nutrients and oxygen to areas in the central nervous system. While anaerobic exercise has also been shown to raise insulin-like growth factor-1(IGF-1) concentrations, which enhances general cognitive function, lactic acid accumulation was found to have a negative effect on cognitive improvement. Exercises that include specific cognitive brain stimulation were found to directly improve that cognitive function. In terms of intensity, moderate exercise was shown to be the most effective overall. In some areas, High intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise matched moderate exercise’s effect on cognitive function and outperformed it in others. These findings were shown to be true for all age groups, particularly among children, adolescents, and older adults. However, because the number of studies were limited, further research is needed to understand the exact influence exercise has on young to middle-aged adults. Furthermore, while the study did find that exercise can increase general cognition, it was unable to assess the exact impact of different types of exercise on specific cognitive processes.



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