INVESTIGATING THE EFFECTS OF DIFFERENT INTENSITIES OF AEROBIC EXERCISE ON CORTICAL EXCITABILITY IN NON-EXERCISED UPPER LIMB MUSCLES OF NON-DISABLED YOUNG ADULTS
The goal of rehabilitation after stroke is to achieve functional recovery by driving brain recovery. Research has found that highly excitable brain cells can be stimulated easier than less excitable cells. Aerobic exercise (AE) has been shown to increase brain excitability, however the AE level used previously was not feasible for clinical practice. This study sought to test if AE levels lower than those previously established can increase cortical excitability, and to evaluate potential mechanisms underlying this change. Our findings show that exercise at 50 and 40% of heart rate reserve (HRR) for 20 minutes significantly increases cortical excitability and modulates intracortical inhibitory networks. Our findings suggest that AE levels lower than those previously investigated, namely 40% HRR, are effective in increasing cortical excitability, representing a means to prime the brain in advance of rehabilitation. Future work needs to replicate these findings in individuals post-stroke to ensure similar effects.