Effects of volume-matched acute exercise on metacognition in late middle-aged adults: The roles of exercise intensity and duration

Prog Brain Res. 2024:283:1-19. doi: 10.1016/bs.pbr.2023.11.002. Epub 2023 Dec 19.


Increasing studies have observed the benefit of acute exercise on core executive functions (EFs). However, the effects of high-order EFs (i.e., metacognition) are poorly investigated. Additionally, the beneficial effect varies depending on exercise-related variables (e.g., intensity, duration). Exercise volume, represented by exercise intensity and duration, is one approach to examine the relationship between acute exercise and metacognition. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the effects of acute exercise, involving three volume-matched evaluations, on metacognition in late middle-aged adults. It recruited 40 community-dwelling late middle-aged adults (22 females; Mage=61.05±4.17years). Its counterbalanced and repeated-measure experimental design included a control reading session and three exercise sessions: (1) acute moderate-intensity exercise for 30min, (2) higher-intensity exercise for 16min, and (3) lower-intensity exercise for 40min. After each session, all participants were asked to perform the Tower of London (TOL) task to assess their metacognition related to planning and problem-solving. This study showed that regardless of exercise intensity and duration variation, acute exercise led to higher move-related (i.e., total correct and move scores) and time-related (i.e., total executive and problem-solving times) scores but did not affect total initial time and violation-related scores compared to reading treatment. These findings suggest enhanced performance in metacognition after acute exercise regardless of its intensity and duration variation.

Keywords: Executive function; Exercise volume; Planning; Problem-solving; Tower of London task.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Executive Function
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Metacognition*
  • Middle Aged