Date of Award
Bachelor of Science
exercise, cognition, benefit, interactive, function
Many high quality randomized clinical trials have now clarified the strong relationship between exercise and cognition (Colcombe & Kramer, 2003). A growing area of exercise research has been focused on the effects of “exergaming” on cognitive function. Exergaming provides an individual with the ability to physically interact with a virtual environment (O’Leary et al., 2011). Recent research has shown an added cognitive benefit of interactive mental and physical exercise, when using a virtual reality-enhanced stationary bike. It is unclear whether interactivity is required, or if added cognitive benefit is "simply" from doing two things at the same time and reaping extra benefit. This study randomly assigned participants to one of three conditions: 1) interactive mental and physical exercise (cybercycling), 2) synchronized mental and physical exercise (watching an educational TV program while pedaling), or 3) mental exercise only. Thirty participants engaged in an acute exercise bout and completed neuropsychological tests of executive function, pre and post exercise. Participants were characterized as fit or unfit by the exercise history questionnaire (McAuley et al., 2011). There was a significant effect of combined physical and mental exercise with fit participants on executive function as measured by the Color Trails Difference scores, F(1,21) = 4.98, p < 0.05, such that participants who engaged in either the interactive or synchronized condition had a larger improvement in executive function (M = -2.90) compared to the mental exercise group (M = 9.61). The negative mean indicates that the participants performed faster on the post-test. These findings suggest that interactive or synchronized exercise, is more beneficial than mental exercise alone. However, more research is needed to clarify if there really is a difference between interactive and synchronized exercise. A larger sample size may reveal if there is a difference, which was not able to be detected here.
Moore, Caitlin, "Cognitive Effects of Combined Physical and Mental Exercise: Interactive vs. Synchronous" (2013). Honors Theses and Student Projects. 708.