Effects of Fitlight training on cognitive-motor performance in élite judo athletes

Heliyon. 2024 Mar 23;10(7):e28712. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2024.e28712. eCollection 2024 Apr 15.


Aims: The aims of this study were to verify if a 5-week cognitive-motor training (CMT) using FitlightsTM induced changes in young adult judo athletes compared to a non-intervention group. Specifically, it was verified if CMT influenced executive functions (EFs), physical fitness and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels. Additionally, athletes' competitive results were compared between groups.

Method: Twenty-seven athletes (14 males and 13 females; age = 19.5 ± 2.0 years) were assigned to the Fitlight (FG) and control (CG) groups which performed 5 weeks of CMT, respectively, including 25 min per day of Fitlight training or traditional judo practice. All participants performed cognitive (flanker task and forward/backward digit span) and fitness tests (counter movement jump, handgrip test, dynamic and isometric chin up). In addition, BDNF was collected by saliva sampling and competitive results after the intervention period were considered.

Results: RM-ANOVA showed significant differences in FG for the accuracy of flanker (p = 0.028) and backward digit span (p < 0.001). Moreover, significant differences in FG were found for relative dynamic chin up (p = 0.027) and counter movement jump (p = 0.05). In addition, a significant difference in FG was found for competitive results after the intervention period (p < 0.01).No significant differences were found for BDNF and other cognitive and fitness measures (p > 0.05).

Conclusion: A 5-week judo-specific CMT improved EFs and motor performance in élite judo athletes. It seems that CMT with Fitlight™ could be considered an additional support to coaches during the training period.

Keywords: BDNF; Combat sports; Executive functions; High-level training.