7 Weeks of Interval Training And Cognitive Function

7 Weeks of Interval Training And Cognitive Function

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Background

In prior studies, aerobic exercise has been proven to improve athletic performance, reduce risk of chronic disease and improve cognitive function in folks of various ages. Regarding cognitive function, exercise appears to help attention, memory and executive function.

Interval training, which is characterized by periods of intense exercise followed by periods of rest, appears to have several advantages over traditional aerobic training.

First, it’s more time efficient.

Second, other studies have suggested it’s at least equivalent to traditional aerobic training and perhaps better for endurance capacity depending on the sport or event.

What the authors of this study wanted to know was how it affected cognitive performance.

Methods

8 young adults completed the intervention which was interval running program with 200 m and 2,000 m running performance.

The authors then measured:

  • cycling maximal oxygen uptake
  • cognitive function was measured before and after the intervention.

The control group was tested in the same way as the experimental group, but did not complete any regular training.

Results

In the experimental group, 200 m and 2,000 m running performance and cycling maximal oxygen uptake increased together with improved results on cognitive flexibility tasks.

No changes were noted for short-term and working memory tasks in the experimental group.

No changes were noted in the control groups.

Conclusions

Cognitive flexibility, meaning ability to predictably and unpredictably task switch, improved significantly over a 7 week interval training program.

Athletes at all levels should include interval training in their exercise regimen for both the physical and cognitive benefits.

Original Article

Venckunas, T., Snieckus, A., & Trinkunas, E. (2016). Interval Running Training Improves Cognitive Flexibility and Aerobic Power of Young Healthy Adults. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 30(8), 2114-2121. doi:10.1519/jsc.0000000000001322

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