Investigating the Effect of High-Intensity Aerobic Exercise on Executive Functions: A Scoping Review
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High intensity (HI) aerobic exercise is considered to be a time-efficient strategy for improving executive functions (EF). EFs include attention, cognitive flexibility, working memory, and inhibition, and are important for healthy mental functioning. To date, the literature examining the efficacy of HI exercise for improving EF is mixed, with the understanding that at a too high of an intensity, EF suffers. We therefore designed a scoping review to reveal the general consensus of the current body of literature. We systematically reviewed research studies that behaviourally measured EFs before and after a bout of HI aerobic exercise. We found that there is no clear support for the ability of HI aerobic exercise to improve or hinder EFs. We also showed the lack of definitive results was likely due to the heterogeneity across study designs. Our findings highlight the need to establish thorough standardization of exercise and cognitive methodologies and measurements.