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PLoS One. 2019 Sep 4;14(9):e0216842. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0216842. eCollection 2019.

Comparison of the effects of running and badminton on executive function: A within-subjects design.

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Faculty of Liberal Arts, Tohoku Gakuin University, Sendai, Japan.
School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.


Multiple cross-sectional studies have shown that regular complex exercises, which require cognitive demands (e.g., decision making) and various motions, are associated with greater positive effects on executive functions compared to simple exercises. However, the evidence of a single bout of complex exercises is mixed, and investigations on the acute effect of complex exercise using a well-controlled within-subjects research design are few. Therefore, we compared the acute effects of complex exercise on inhibitory functions with those of simple running. Twenty young adults performed three interventions, which were running, badminton, and seated rest as a control condition for 10 min each. During each intervention, oxygen consumption and heart rate were monitored. A Stroop test and a reverse-Stroop test were completed before and after each intervention. The intensities of the badminton and running were equivalent. Badminton significantly improved performance on the Stroop task compared to seated rest; however, running did not enhance performance on the Stroop task relative to seated rest. A single bout of complex exercise elicits a larger benefit to inhibitory function than a single bout of simple exercise. However, the benefit of complex exercise may vary depending on the type of executive functions.

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Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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