Can exercise benefit executive functioning following stress? A scoping review of the role of the prefrontal cortex
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Daily stress is pervasive among many Canadians. While daily stress may lead to unpleasant feelings, it is also associated with acute alterations in the concentration of salivary cortisol and oxygenated cerebral blood flow. To that end, available evidence suggests the general potential of aerobic exercise to help individuals manage stress. Here, various forms of aerobic exercise appear to target regions of the prefrontal cortex, which are affected by stress and required for executive functioning. This review searched PubMed and PsycInfo to summarize the available evidence herein. The results suggest the general involvement of the prefrontal cortex in stress- as well as exercise-related changes in executive functioning, and the utility of functional imaging to examine these areas of the literature. Recommendations are provided for future research.