The past two decades have uncovered the beneficial relation of physical activity and other health behaviors on brain and cognition, with the majority of data emerging from older adult populations. More recently, a similar research thread has emerged in school-aged children, which offers insight into the relation of physical activity to scholastic performance, providing a real-world application of the benefits observed in the laboratory. Technological advances have similarly furthered our understanding of physical activity effects on cognitive and brain health. Given this emerging body of work, this manuscript reviews the basic findings within the field, but more importantly suggests triggers or signals from the emerging literature that will shape the field in the near future. The overall goal of this body of research is to increase cognitive and brain health to promote effective functioning of individuals across the lifespan.
Charles H. Hillman, Kirk I. Erickson and Bradley D. Hatfield
Jessie N. Stapleton, Diane E. Mack and Kathleen A. Martin Ginis
The aim of this meta-analysis was to examine the magnitude of the relationship between social influence and both PA behavior and PA-related social cognitions among samples of adults with physical disabilities, including those with chronic conditions that can lead to a physical disability. A comprehensive literature search was conducted to identify studies involving adults with physical disability, a measure of social influence, and a measure of PA behavior or PA-related social cognitions. A total of 27 studies with 4,768 participants yielded 47 effect sizes to be included for meta-analysis. Significant, small- to medium-sized relationships were identified between social influence and PA behavior, and social influence and PA-related social cognitions. These relationships suggest that social factors positively associate with physical-activity-related social cognitions and should be targeted when promoting physical activity behavior change among adults with a physical disability.
Sarah Kelly, Len Coote, T. Bettina Cornwell and Anna McAlister
This research provides insight into the complex relationship between consumer response to persuasion attempts and skepticism, suggesting that erstwhile targets may be swayed by campaigns pitched as a form of entertainment. The authors examine consumer responses to an important sponsorship-leveraging tool: sponsorship-linked advertising (SLA). A theoretical model of consumer response to SLA is proposed, drawing on important resistance mechanisms to persuasion, including ad skepticism, attributed advertiser motives, and the nature of thoughts. Results confirm existing research on consumer skepticism suggesting its transitory nature and hence potential for advertisers to strategically temper it through specific cues in ad execution. Differential processing between SLA and traditional advertising is supported, such that SLA elicits more favorable cognitive response.
Jennifer L. Etnier
In developing a senior lecture for the 2014 national meeting of the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity, I had the opportunity to reflect upon a career of research and to focus on three interesting questions that my colleagues and I have attempted to address. These questions have led to several studies that all revolve around identifying ways to increase the effects of exercise on cognitive performance. In particular, the questions examine the possibility of increasing effects by focusing on particular populations (e.g., older adults, children) and by increasing our understanding of dose-response relationships between exercise parameters (e.g., intensity, duration) and cognitive outcomes. I present empirical evidence relative to each of these questions and provide directions for future research on physical activity and cognitive functioning.
Laura Chaddock, Michelle W. Voss and Arthur F. Kramer
Our increasingly inactive lifestyle is detrimental to physical and cognitive health. This review focuses on the beneficial relation of physical activity and aerobic fitness to the brain and cognitive health in a youth and elderly population to highlight the need to change this pattern. In children, increased physical activity and higher levels of aerobic fitness have been associated with superior academic achievement and cognitive processes. Differences in brain volumes and brain function of higher-fit and lower-fit peers are potential mechanisms underlying the performance differences in cognitive challenges. We hope that this research will encourage modifications in educational policies that will increase physical activity during the school day. In addition, older adults who participate in physical activity show higher performance on a variety of cognitive tasks, coupled with less risk of cognitive impairment. The cognitive enhancements are in part driven by less age-related brain tissue loss and increases in the efficiency of brain function. Given the increasing aging population and threat of dementia, research about the plasticity of the elderly active brain has important public health implications. Collectively, the data support that participation in physical activity could enhance daily functioning, learning, achievement, and brain health in children and the elderly.
Robert F. Potter and Justin Robert Keene
An experiment investigates the impact of fan identification on the cognitive and emotional processing of sports-related news media. Two coaches were featured; one conceptualized as negatively valenced the other positively. Participants completed a fan identification scale before stimuli presentation. While watching the press conferences, heart rate, skin conductance, and corrugator muscle activity were recorded as indices of cognitive resource allocation, emotional arousal, and aversive motivation activation respectively. Self-report measures were collected after each stimulus. Results show that highly identified fans process sports-related news content differently than moderate fans, allocating more cognitive resources and exhibiting greater aversive reactions to the negatively valenced coach. Comparisons between the self-report and psychophysiology data suggest that the latter may be less susceptible to social desirability response bias when emotional reaction to sports messages are concerned.
Jennifer J. Heisz and Ana Kovacevic
Age-related changes in the brain can compromise cognitive function. However, in some cases, the brain is able to functionally reorganize to compensate for some of this loss. The present paper reviews the benefits of exercise on executive functions in older adults and discusses a potential mechanism through which exercise may change the way the brain processes information for better cognitive outcomes. Specifically, older adults who are more physically active demonstrate a shift toward local neural processing that is associated with better executive functions. We discuss the use of neural complexity as a sensitive measure of the neural network plasticity that is enhanced through exercise. We conclude by highlighting the future work needed to improve exercise prescriptions that help older adults maintain their cognitive and physical functions for longer into their lifespan.
Katherine A. Bond and Joanne Batey
This study explores the relationship between self-cognitions and running behavior in a group of female recreational runners. Consistent with theories of self-esteem and exerciser self-schemata, it aims to identify how running can impact on the self, and how self-cognitions can influence motivation and adherence to running. In-depth interviews were conducted with 16 women of varying age, ability, and running experience who had entered a major women’s 10K race. Inductive data analysis revealed that there was a bi-directional relationship between running involvement and self-cognitions. Running provided experiences which led to enhanced self-esteem, notably through perceived improvements to the physical self, but also through increases in mastery/achievement and physical competence. These changes contributed to the value of running for the women, strengthened their exercise self-schema, and increased the likelihood of adherence to running. However, family responsibilities constrained the women in their ability to run, impacting on the exercise-self relationship outlined.
Lisa Cooke and Krista Chandler
Given the prevalence of inactivity among women, it is imperative to examine sources which may influence exercise behavior. Researchers have begun to examine the practical application of exercise imagery on involvement in physical activity (Giacobbi et al., 2003; Milne et al., 2008). Using the Applied Model of Imagery Use in Exercise (Munroe-Chandler & Gammage, 2005), imagery use, efficacy beliefs, and body image among female exercisers (N = 300) was investigated. Results revealed frequent use of exercise imagery, high efficacy beliefs, and positive body image cognitions among exercisers. Structural equation modeling revealed that efficacy beliefs did not mediate the relationship between imagery use and body image among a specific sample of female exercisers. However, the results do suggest that exercise imagery significantly predicts all four types of efficacy belief types (Efficacy Expectancy, Outcome Expectancy, Outcome Value, and Self-presentational Efficacy). Further examination of the suggested relationships in the applied model is needed.
Kristen Lucas and E. Whitney G. Moore
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