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Background: Recent evidence has suggested that chronic physical activities including balance exercises have positive effects on cognition, but their acute effects are still unknown. In the present study, the authors tested the hypothesis that an acute bout of balance exercise would enhance cognitive performance compared with aerobic activity. Methods: A total of 20 healthy middle-aged adults completed 2 acute 30-minute balance and moderate-intensity aerobic exercise sessions on 2 counterbalanced separate occasions. To assess cognitive functions, performance tasks in executive control, perceptual speed, and simple reaction time were tested before and immediately after each exercise session. Results: Although there were no significant interactions (time × exercise condition, P > .05), the main effects of time were significant in executive control (P < .05), perceptual speed (P < .05), and simple reaction time (P < .001), showing improvements after both exercises. Conclusions: These findings highlight that both types of exercise (aerobic, more metabolic and less cognitively demanding; balance, more cognitively and less metabolically demanding) were able to positively affect simple reaction time performance, perceptual speed, and executive control independently of physiological adjustments occurring during aerobic or balance exercise.
Formenti, Cavaggioni, Duca, Trecroci, Rapelli, and Alberti are with the Department of Biomedical Sciences for Health, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milano, Italy. Formenti is with the Department of Biotechnology and Life Sciences, University of Insubria, Varese, Italy. Komar is with the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore. Iodice is with the Centre d’Etude des Transformations des Activités Physiques et Sportives (CETAPS) EA 3832, University of Rouen Normandy, Mont-Saint-Aignan, France.