Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. in Health Promotion


Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management

First Advisor

Paul D. Loprinzi

Second Advisor

Ling Xin

Third Advisor

Jeremy P. Loenneke

Relational Format



Previous studies have shown moderate intensity exercise to be a desired intensity level to optimize cognitive function, however, this research has mostly been conducted among older adults despite the claim that cognitive function may start to decline in the early years (i.e., 20s). Another research gap within this population is our limited understanding of the effects of different exercise durations and recovery periods on cognitive function. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the effects of different exercise durations and recovery periods on cognition using a treadmill-based protocol. In a counterbalanced, cross-over randomized controlled design, 352 participants, ages 18-35, were placed into one of sixteen groups. Each participant visited the laboratory twice, with a one-week washout period between the two visits. Either visit one or two consisted of an acute bout of moderate-intensity treadmill exercise (10, 20, 30, 45, or 60 minutes) folloby a period of rest (5, 15, or 30 minutes) before taking a set of five cognitive function tests, while the other visit consisted of only completing the cognitive tests (no exercise). The cognitions assessed included multiple cognitive-related parameters including reasoning, concentration, memory, and attention. We did not observe strong evidence of an association between acute exercise and cognitive performance. Our findings did, however, suggest that short recovery period (i.e., 5 min recovery) may have a less favorable effect on planning-based cognition. Additionally, for various exercise durations and recovery periods, a group x time x baseline cognition interaction effect was observed. That is, for both memory and inhibitory-based cognition, acute exercise (vs. no exercise) had an enhanced effect on cognition only for those with lower baseline cognition. Our findings suggest that the length of the recovery period and baseline cognition status, in particular, may influence exercise-associated cognition.



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