Acute exercise on memory function: open vs. closed skilled exercise

Health Promot Perspect. 2020 Mar 30;10(2):123-128. doi: 10.34172/hpp.2020.20. eCollection 2020.


Background: Previous studies suggest that acute exercise may improve memory function. Few studies, however, have investigated the differential effect of the acute exercise movement patterns on memory. Such an effect is plausible, as research demonstrates that open-skilled exercise (e.g.,racquetball) may have a greater effect on memory-related neurotrophins (e.g., brain-derived neurotrophic factors) when compared to closed-skilled exercise (e.g. treadmill exercise). A key distinction between open- and closed-skilled exercise is that open-skilled exercises are those that require an individual to react in a dynamic way to a changing, unpredictable environment. Our aim in this study was to assess wether retrospective and prospective memory are differentially influenced from open- and closed-skilled acute exercise. Methods: A within-subject design was employed. Participants (Mage = 20.6 years; 69% female)completed two visits, in a counterbalanced order. The two experimental conditions included open-skilled acute exercise (racquetball) and closed-skilled acute exercise (treadmill exercise),each lasting 30-minute at 60% of heart rate reserve (HRR). During both experimental conditions,participants completed short- and long-term assessments of retrospective and prospective memory function. Retrospective memory was evaluated across multiple word-list trials (e.g.,Trials 1-6, 20-minute delay, 24-hour delay). Results: No significant effect of exercise was found on prospective memory. For retrospective memory, there was a significant main effect for condition, F(1, 57) = 5.33, P = 0.02, η2 = 0.004,main effect for trial, F(4.12, 234.9) = 227.85, P < 0.001, η2 = 0.46, but no condition by trial interaction, F(4.63, 264.08) = 1.022, P = 0.40, η2 = 0.002. Conclusion: Retrospective memory was greater after closed-skilled exercise (treadmill) when compared to open-skilled exercise (racquetball).

Keywords: Cognition; Metacognition; Running; Walking.