Science University Research Symposium (SURS)

Publication Date



Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Psychological Science, Department of

SURS Faculty Advisor

Michael Oliver

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


Exercise has been shown to have numerous benefits. Benefits often depend on the type and duration of exercise. Existing research focuses primarily on long-term aerobic exercise with studies showing 20-30 minutes of exercise to be beneficial. What remains unknown is how little exercise can show benefits. Anaerobic exercise has not been studied much, and when it has, findings have been mixed. Research is needed to elucidate the potential cognitive and psychological benefits of anaerobic exercise of different durations. In addition to exercise type, factors such as one’s attitude towards exercising, exercise frequency, and perception of effort may play a role in benefits received. It is important to investigate factors that may contribute to, and better explain, differences in cognitive and psychological benefits from exercise. Participants were randomly assigned to either aerobic or anaerobic exercise and completed pre- and post-test measures on mood and cognitive performance. Paired samples t-tests were run to assess differences in mood and cognition pre- vs post-aerobic and anaerobic exercise, independent samples t-tests were run to compare changes between aerobic and anaerobic exercise, and bivariate correlations were computed to assess relationships between RPE, exercise frequency, attitudes towards exercise, changes in mood and changes in cognition. Aerobic exercise was better at decreasing depression and improving trails time to completion, while still decreasing errors made on trails as well as tension, confusion, fatigue, and total mood disturbance. Anaerobic exercise was better at improving 2-Back accuracy, while still decreasing Trails A and B time to completion as well as tension, fatigue, confusion, and total mood disturbance, and increasing vigor. Additionally, more frequent exercise was associated with a greater decrease in depression and total mood disturbance as well as a more positive attitude towards exercise. The results show that an acute bout of exercise to a specific heart rate may be beneficial in receiving cognitive and psychological benefits, with frequency of exercise being important. Future studies should adopt different exercise protocols (e.g., cycling) to see if specific mode of exercise matters, as well as explore the role that factors such as endorphin release, sleep quality, exercise enjoyment, fitness level, and exercise motivation and history may play in explaining disparities in psychological and/or cognitive benefits to different types of exercise.



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