Interval Running Training Improves Cognitive Flexibility and Aerobic Power of Young Healthy Adults

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Venckunas, T, Snieckus, A, Trinkunas, E, Baranauskiene, N, Solianik, R, Juodsnukis, A, Streckis, V, and Kamandulis, S. Interval running training improves cognitive flexibility and aerobic power of young healthy adults. J Strength Cond Res 30(8): 2114–2121, 2016—The benefits of regular physical exercise may well extend beyond the reduction of chronic diseases risk and augmentation of working capacity, to many other aspects of human well-being, including improved cognitive functioning. Although the effects of moderate intensity continuous training on cognitive performance are relatively well studied, the benefits of interval training have not been investigated in this respect so far. The aim of the current study was to assess whether 7 weeks of interval running training is effective at improving both aerobic fitness and cognitive performance. For this purpose, 8 young dinghy sailors (6 boys and 2 girls) completed the interval running program with 200 m and 2,000 m running performance, cycling maximal oxygen uptake, and cognitive function was measured before and after the intervention. The control group consisted of healthy age-matched subjects (8 boys and 2 girls) who continued their active lifestyle and were tested in the same way as the experimental group, but did not complete any regular training. In the experimental group, 200 m and 2,000 m running performance and cycling maximal oxygen uptake increased together with improved results on cognitive flexibility tasks. No changes in the results of short-term and working memory tasks were observed in the experimental group, and no changes in any of the measured indices were evident in the controls. In conclusion, 7 weeks of interval running training improved running performance and cycling aerobic power, and were sufficient to improve the ability to adjust behavior to changing demands in young active individuals.

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