Previous studies have consistently reported a positive effect of acute exercise on cognition, particularly on executive function. However, most studies have focused on aerobic and resistant forms of exercise. The purpose of this study was to compare the effect of 'open-skill' with 'closed-skill' exercise (defined in terms of the predictability of the performing environment) on brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) production and task switching performance. Twenty young adult males participated in both closed (running) and open (badminton) skill exercise sessions in a counterbalanced order on separate days. The exercise sessions consisted of 5 min of warm up exercises followed by 30 min of running or badminton. The exercise intensity was set at 60% (±5%) of the heart rate reserve level (HRR) with HR being monitored by a wireless heart rate monitor. Blood samples were taken and participation in a task-switching paradigm occurred before and after each exercise session. Results showed no differences in serum BDNF or task-switching performance at the pre-test stage, however, badminton exercise resulted in significantly higher serum BDNF levels (a proxy for levels of BDNF in the brain) and near significant smaller global switching costs relative to running. This study has provided preliminary evidence in support the relative benefits of open-skills exercises on BDNF and executive function.
Keywords: closed-skill; executive function; open-skill; switch cost.