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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 18-21

Immediate effects of physical activity on motor cognitive function in healthy young adults: A pre-test post-test quasi experimental study


Department of Physiotherapy, Mount Adora Hospital, Sylhet, Bangladesh

Date of Submission28-Jan-2021
Date of Decision22-Mar-2021
Date of Acceptance27-Mar-2021
Date of Web Publication07-Jun-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sohel Ahmed
Mount Adora Physiotherapy and Neuro-rehabilitation Center, Mount Adora Hospital, Akhalia, Sylhet-3100
Bangladesh
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DOI: 10.4103/sjsm.sjsm_2_21

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  Abstract 

Background: Physical activity influences cognitive function which is already established by several literatures. Exercise increases attention and performance on cognitive tasks, but the immediate effect of exercise on motor-cognitive function is unknown.
Aim: Our aim was to find out the immediate effect of physical activity on motor-cognitive function in healthy adults.
Materials and Methods: Twenty-five young males and females aged between 18 and 25 years were recruited by convenient sampling technique. Anthropometric measurement was obtained from the consented participants. For measuring the motor-cognitive function, memory cognitive skill game, an android-based mobile application, was used. The normality of the data was established by Shapiro–Wilk test. As the data follow normal distribution, the descriptive statistics were expressed in mean ± standard deviation and paired t-test was used to report pre- and postchange scores.
Results: The mean age, height, weight, and body mass index of students were 22.48 ± 2.24 years, 163.25 ± 9.32 cm, 61.56 ± 9.32 kg, and 23.14 ± 3.6 kg/m2, respectively. Overall, the mean pre- and postphysical activity scores were 44.54 ± 12.43 and 48.71 ± 12.40, respectively, with a significant difference (P = 0.005) between them. Gender-wise analysis revealed a significant change among the female participants (P = 0.002) but not among the male participants (P = 0.266).
Conclusion: This study concluded that motor-cognitive function improves immediately after exercise.

Keywords: Cognitive function, exercise, memory, physical activity


How to cite this article:
Ahmed S, Akter R. Immediate effects of physical activity on motor cognitive function in healthy young adults: A pre-test post-test quasi experimental study. Saudi J Sports Med 2021;21:18-21

How to cite this URL:
Ahmed S, Akter R. Immediate effects of physical activity on motor cognitive function in healthy young adults: A pre-test post-test quasi experimental study. Saudi J Sports Med [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Jun 25];21:18-21. Available from: https://www.sjosm.org/text.asp?2021/21/1/18/317855




  Introduction Top


Physical exercise remarks as the most sought healthy prescription than drugs and is an important tool for enhancing physical indices such as strength, endurance, balance, cardiovascular fitness, blood pressure, and lipid profile.[1] The field of exercise and cognitive function is rapidly growing, and studies show that exercise improves cognitive functions.[2] Physical activity is positively associated with cognitive function described by different mechanisms. Physiological mechanism describes the physical changes which occurs as a result of physical activity includes; increase cerebral blood flow, enhancement of the release of neurotransmitter, which causes structural changes in the central nervous system as well as altered arousal levels.[3] Physical training provides cellular and molecular changes in the body and thus increases angiogenesis, neurogenesis, and synaptogenesis in the brain.[4]

Most of the researches showed the potential benefit of exercise on physical health, and there is mounting evidence that exercise provides a beneficial effect on cognitive function. A study reported that exercise provides immediate benefits of cognitive function in young and old-age people.[1] Moderate-to-high intensity exercise ranging from 5 to 30 min of exercise improves psychological well-being.[5] An acute bout of exercise has a beneficial effect on various cognitive processes such as response accuracy, response speed, and problem-solving reported by a narrative review.[6]

Although the extant literature supports the beneficial effects of physical exercise on cognitive performance, most of the researches have focused on patients with various health impairments.[7],[8],[9],[10] Few researches also focus on short-term effects of exercise on cognitive function,[2],[4],[6] but questions remain left regarding the issue about the immediate effect of exercise on motor-cognitive function. Hence, this study aims to find out the immediate effect of short-term physical activity on motor-cognitive function in healthy adults.


  Materials and Methods Top


The study protocol was approved by the student project committee and done according to the guideline of Helsinki (revised 2013) and Indian Council for Medical Research (2017). For conducting a pilot study, 12 samples are sufficient to meet the sample size requirement.[11] Hence, 25 college-going young males and females were recruited for this preliminary one-group pretest–posttest quasi-experimental study by convenient sampling method. The selection criteria (Inclusion criteria) were; healthy volunteers, aged between 17 and 25 years, and willing to participate in this study. The exclusion criteria were volunteers who received steroid hormone; those who had a history of stroke, heart attack, and head injury; and females who had a history of irregular menstrual cycle, diagnosed learning disability, and concussion within previous 6 months. Before the test administration, anthropometric measurement was obtained from the consented participants.

Motor-cognitive function (visual working memory) was assessed by using an android-based mobile application which is called Train your brain memory; where we used memory game pairs of cards, that is available in Google play store. Smartphone-based application for the assessment of cognitive function is valid, reliable, and feasible.[12] The selected participants came to the physiotherapy laboratory for the intervention. To minimize the practice effects, we asked the participants to play the game at least one time before collecting the baseline data. Once they familiar with the games, we asked the participants to play the game up to 20 levels. After that, the participants were asked to perform 10 min of physical activity as a study suggested that cognitive benefit can be achieved after 10 min of physical activity.[13] The physical activity includes moderate-intensity[10] (60%–70% of heart rate max) treadmill running for 10 min. We ensured moderate physical activity by using Karvonen formula. The first resting heart rate was calculated, after that heart rate reserve (heart rate maximum – resting heart rate) was calculated. We confirmed the required exercise intensity by using the formula. Heart rate reserve was multiplied by the required percentage (60%–70%) of exercise intensity plus resting heart rate of the participants. The treadmill system used in this study comprises a pulse oximeter and a display part which measure heart rate and atrial oxygen saturation during exercise. The pulse oximeter measurement sensor was attached to the participant's hand to ensure the required heart rate. After performing physical activity, the participants took 5 min rest and again play the same game. Pre- and postintervention mean scores of 1–20 levels were taken for analysis.

The normality of the data was established by Shapiro–Wilk test. As the data follow normal distribution, the descriptive statistics were expressed in mean ± standard deviation and paired t-test was used to report pre- and postchange scores. P < 0.01 was considered as statistically significant. Data were analyzed by using IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows 10, version 20 (IBM Corp., Armonk, N.Y., USA).


  Results Top


The mean age, height, weight, and body mass index of students were 22.48 ± 2.24 years, 163.25 ± 9.32 cm, 61.56 ± 9.32 kg, and 23.14 ± 3.6 kg/m2, respectively. The mean pre- and postscores after physical activity of males and females and overall score are presented in [Table 1]. There was a significant difference between pre- and postphysical activity scores (P = 0.005). Gender-wise analysis revealed a significant change among the female participants (P = 0.002) but not among the male participants (P = 0.266). The study was found to have a medium effect size of effect size index = 0.4. Retrospective power analysis was performed using G*Power software for windows (Version 3.1.9.4) to confirm whether the study was sufficiently powered (1−β >0.8) with 10% level of significance (α = 0.01). Thus, the power of the study is found to be 81% (1−β = 0.81) and sufficiently powered.
Table 1: The mean pre- and postscores after physical activity of the participants

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  Discussion Top


Previous literature demonstrates the beneficial effects of exercise on cognitive performances. The purpose of this study was to find out the effect of physical activity on motor-cognitive function in healthy adults. The results of this current study indicate that immediately after physical activity enhance the motor cognitive function of healthy individuals. It was also observed that there was an improvement in visual working memory and attention immediately after short term physical activity caused by increased blood flow to the brain, which altered the physiological changes during and after exercise.[3]

In our study, female participants show more significant results than males; the possible reason for high cognitive function among females is due to hormonal effects. Estrogen affects the neurotransmitter of the brain in various forms including serotonergic, catecholaminergic, cholinergic, and γ-aminobutyric acidergic systems. The steroid hormone influences the cognitive function in women by increasing the concentration of estrogen of Choline Acetyltransferase that help to synthesize acetylcholine which is crucially implicated in memory function.[14] During the preovulatory phases in females, there is a spike in estrogen levels which may be the cause of high cognitive profile.[15],[16]

The results of this present study are in line with the objective of the previous studies. A study reported that a single bout of exercise improves cognitive functions.[17] Another study by Barella et al.[18] reported that immediately after physical activity has short-term benefits for speed of processing. Hogan et al.[1] reported that exercise holds important benefits on younger and older adults' cognitive performances.

High-demand sports require outstanding cognitive function to focus, make visual attention, and to faster decision making. A study reported that cognitive skill is positively related to motor test score which supports the interaction of physical and psychological skills.[19] Few studies have discussed about the positive effects of physical activity on cognitive function[19],[20] that is in line with the objective of this present study.

It has been proposed that physical activity enhanced brain functioning, permitting healthier development in childhood and adolescence, and substitute as a defender in aging processes. Regular physical activity helps to protect cognitive impairment and helps to maintain healthy life.[21] A recent meta-analytic review study reported that elite athletes have superior cognitive function than expert athletes.[22]

This present study has some limitations; there was no control group in this study, without estimation of sex hormone; the cognitive functions were assessed; and the sample size of this study was small. Even the sample size of this study was small, but this study was sufficiently powered, and we used cost-effective measurement tools for this intervention. In the future, this study can be done with large sample population with different age groups.


  Conclusion Top


This study concluded that there is an immediate effect of exercise on motor-cognitive function, and females showed higher motor-cognitive ability than males.

Acknowledgments

This study paper was presented as a poster presentation in the 4th International Congress on Brain and Spine Caring Pain and Paralysis-Optimizing Function NEURAXIS 2018 organized by the Institute of Applied Medicines and Research, Ghaziabad, India, on September 29, 2018. We thank, Dr. Amena Abdul Muthlib, BPT, Junior Physiotherapist, Mount Adora Hospital, Akhalia, Sylhet-3100, Bangladesh for the final proof reading and correction of the manuscript.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

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Hogan CL, Mata J, Carstensen LL. Exercise holds immediate benefits for affect and cognition in younger and older adults. Psychol Aging 2013;28:587-94.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
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Julious SA. Sample size of 12 per group rule of thumb for a pilot study. Pharm Stat 2005;4:287-91.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
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Mandolesi L, Polverino A, Montuori S, Foti F, Ferraioli G, Sorrentino P, et al. Effects of physical exercise on cognitive functioning and wellbeing: Biological and psychological benefits. Front Psychol 2018;9:1-11.  Back to cited text no. 13
    
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Sherwin BB, McGill J. Estrogen and cognitive functioning in women. Endocr Rev 2003;24:133-51.  Back to cited text no. 14
    
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Mittal S, Verma P, Jain N, Khatter S, Juyal A. Gender based variation in cognitive functions in adolescent subjects. Ann Neurosci 2012;19:165-8.  Back to cited text no. 15
    
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Upadhayay N, Guragin S. Comparison of cognitive functions between male and female medical students: A pilot study. J Clin Diagnostic Res 2014;8:10-3.  Back to cited text no. 16
    
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Ellis NJ, Randall JA, Punnett G. The effects of a single bout of exercise on mood and self-esteem in clinically diagnosed mental health patients. Open J Med Psychol 2013;2:81-5.  Back to cited text no. 17
    
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Barella LA, Etnier JL, Chang YK. The immediate and delayed effects of an acute bout of exercise on cognitive performance of healthy older adults. J Aging Phys Act 2010;18:87-98.  Back to cited text no. 18
    
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Scharfen HE, Memmert D. The relationship between cognitive functions and sport-specific motor skills in elite youth soccer players. Front Psychol 2019;10:817.  Back to cited text no. 19
    
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Walton CC, Keegan RJ, Martin M, Hallock H. The potential role for cognitive training in sport: More research needed. Front Psychol 2018;9:1121.  Back to cited text no. 20
    
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