Fitness Level Moderates Executive Control Disruption During Exercise Regardless of Age

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of exercise intensity, age, and fitness levels on executive and nonexecutive cognitive tasks during exercise. Participants completed a computerized modified-Stroop task (including denomination, inhibition, and switching conditions) while pedaling on a cycle ergometer at 40%, 60%, and 80% of peak power output (PPO). We showed that a bout of moderate-intensity (60% PPO) to high-intensity (80% PPO) exercise was associated with deleterious performance in the executive component of the computerized modified-Stroop task (i.e., switching condition), especially in lower-fit individuals (p < .01). Age did not have an effect on the relationship between acute cardiovascular exercise and cognition. Acute exercise can momentarily impair executive control equivalently in younger and older adults, but individual’s fitness level moderates this relation.

Véronique Labelle is with the Centre de recherche, Institut universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal and with the Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Canada. Thien Tuong Minh Vu is with the Geriatric Institute of Montreal Research Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Laurent Bosquet is with the Faculty of Sports Science and MOVE Laboratory, University of Poitiers, Poitiers, France, and with the Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Canada. Said Mekary is with the Geriatric Institute of Montreal Research Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and with the Department of Kinesiology, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Mark Smilovitch is with the Geriatric Institute of Montreal Research Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and the Cardiology Department, Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Louis Bherer is with the Centre de recherche, Institut universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, and with the Department of Psychology, Concordia University (PERFORM Center), Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Address author correspondence to Louis Bherer at louis.bherer@concordia.ca.