Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Cay Anderson-Hanley




cognition, research, excercose, meditation, engagement


An abundance of prior research has indicated the robust relationship between physical exercise and cognition (Colcombe & Kramer, 2003). More recent research has investigated the cognitive and stress-relieving benefits of mind-body exercise, involving a combination of mindful meditation techniques with physical movements (Wayne, et al., 2014). Among these two cognitively enhancing techniques, is “exergaming,” which provides interactive physical exercise with a virtual environment. Research on exergaming has found additional cognitive benefits of interactive mental and physical exercise compared to regular physical exercise (Anderson-Hanley, et al., 2012). However, it remains unclear as to which type of mental engagement is required during physical exercise in order to achieve the greatest cognitive benefits. Given the research suggesting some cognitive benefit of mindfulness meditation practiced independently (Zeidan, Johnson, Diamond, David, & Goolkasian, 2010), the current study investigated the efficacy of combining mindful meditation techniques with virtual reality enhanced exercise (cybercycle). Sixty-one undergraduate students were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: 1) cybercycle (interactive mental and physical exercise), 2) mindful cybercycle (mindful meditation and cybercycle), 3) physical exercise only (no mental component), or 4) mindful meditation only (no physical exercise component). Participants were administered neuropsychological tests of executive function before and after a twenty-minutes of an acute bout of exercise and/or meditation. There was a significant effect of mindful exercise on executive function as measured by the Color Trails, F(1, 20) = 7.32, p = 0.01, such that those in the mindful cybercycle group improved significantly more from pretest to posttest compared to the cybercycle group. No significant difference was found between any of the other conditions. These findings suggest combining mindful meditation with exercise may induce a greater degree of engagement and concentration, providing an enriched neural environment for cognitive enhancement. Future research should continue to explore the level and type of mental engagement/stimulation required during exercise that will produce the greatest cognitive benefits.