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date: 29 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Since Spirduso's seminal study (1975), research examining the relationship between physical activity and cognitive function has burgeoned. Studies examining the effects of a single session of exercise on cognition have demonstrated small effects, with the size of the effect dependent on the particular cognitive task being assessed. Researchers are exploring cerebral blood flow and catecholamines as potential mechanisms of this effect. Studies examining the effects of chronic physical activity on cognitive performance generally report small to moderate effects, with the size of the effect varying based on age, gender, and cognitive task type. Evidence supports changes in cerebral structure and function, reductions in oxidative stress, and increases in cerebral blood flow as potential mechanisms of these effects. Future research is encouraged to further our understanding of mechanisms, of dose–response relationships, and of moderators so that we will be able to prescribe exercise as a means of improving or protecting cognitive performance.

Keywords: cognition, aging, exercise, physical activity, cardiovascular fitness, aerobic fitness

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