Send to

Choose Destination
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2019 Oct 23. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002192. [Epub ahead of print]

Exercise and Executive Function during Follicular and Luteal Menstrual Cycle Phases.

Author information

School of Kinesiology, The University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada.
Canadian Center for Activity and Aging, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada.
Graduate Program in Neuroscience, The University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada.



A single-bout of aerobic or resistance exercise improves executive function. We sought to determine whether menstrual cycle variations in ovarian hormone concentrations differentially influences the expression and/or magnitude of a post-exercise executive benefit.


Eumenorrheic female participants completed 20-min single-bouts of aerobic exercise (via cycle ergometer) at a moderate intensity (i.e., 80% of estimated lactate threshold) during the early-follicular (FOL) and mid-luteal (LUT) phases of their menstrual cycle. Pre- and post-exercise executive function was examined via antisaccades - an executive task requiring a saccade mirror-symmetrical to a visual stimulus. Antisaccades are an ideal tool for examining post-exercise executive changes because the task is mediated via the same frontoparietal networks as modified following single-bout and chronic exercise.


Antisaccade reaction times decreased from the pre- to post-exercise assessments by an average of 22 ms (p=.003) and this benefit was independent of changes in directional errors or endpoint accuracy (ps>.26). In other words, participants did not decrease their post-exercise RTs at the cost of increased planning or execution errors. Most notably, the post-exercise antisaccade benefit did not vary in magnitude across FOL or LUT phases (p=.33) and a two one-sided test statistic (i.e., equivalence testing) provided support for the null hypothesis (p=.008).


A post-exercise executive benefit is independent of hormonal variations in the menstrual cycle. Further, our results evince that the phase of a female participant's menstrual cycle should not be a limiting factor in determining their inclusion in exercise neuroscience research.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wolters Kluwer
Loading ...
Support Center