Objectives To determine whether fitness and cognitive task type moderate the relationship between acute exercise and cognition. Methods Thirty-six healthy college-aged adults completed a maximal graded exercise test and were categorized as low, moderate, or high in cardiovascular fitness. Participants then performed the Stroop Test prior to and after an acute bout of cycling exercise that consisted of a 5-min warm- up, 20 min of exercise at moderate intensity (65% VO2max), and a 5-min cool-down. Results Individuals of all fitness levels improved in cognitive performance following exercise. With regards to fitness, while no differences were observed on the congruent condition as a function of fitness, high fit individuals showed the longest response time on the Stroop incongruent condition. Conclusion The beneficial relationship between performance of an acute bout of exercise and cognitive performance were observed for both cognitive task types and for participants of all fitness levels. However, a curvilinear relationship was observed between fitness and cognitive task type performance such that participants who were moderately fit performed the best on the incongruent trials, implying that maintaining fitness at a moderate level is associated with better executive function.
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