Effects of acute exercise on executive processing, short-term and long-term memory

J Sports Sci. 2008 Feb 1;26(3):333-44. doi: 10.1080/02640410701591417.


In the present study, we evaluated the effects of a brief bout of exercise on executive function, short-term memory, and long-term memory tests. Eighteen young adults (mean age 22.2 years, s = 1.6) performed a set-switching test, a Brown-Peterson test, and a free-recall memory test before and after 40 min of moderate aerobic exercise on a cycle ergometer, and two control conditions. Exercise did not facilitate set switching or short-term memory, which suggests that exercise-induced arousal does not influence executive function processes involved in the reconfiguration of information in working memory. Exercise did alter specific aspects of delayed long-term memory. Free recall of items in the primacy and recency portions of the word list declined following the rest and non-exercise conditions, but was maintained after exercise, which suggests that exercise-induced arousal may facilitate the consolidation of information into long-term memory.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • United States