The article provides a brief review of the literature on the relationship between aerobic Fitness and neurocognitive function, particularly as it relates to older adults. Cross-sectional studies provide strong support for the beneficial influence of fitness on neurocognitive function. The longitudinal or interventional literature, however, provides more equivocal support for this relationship. In discussing the literature, the authors introduce a new hypothesis, the executive control/fitness hypothesis, which suggests that selective neurocognitive benefits will be observed with improvements in aerobic fitness; that is, executive control processes that include planning, scheduling, task coordination, inhibition, and working memory will benefit from enhanced fitness. Preliminary evidence for this hypothesis is discussed.
Arthur F. Kramer is with the Beckman Institute and the Department of Psychology, and Edward McAuley is with the Department of Kinesiology, at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801. Sowon Hahn is with the Department of Psychology at the University of California at Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521.