|Year : 2020 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 41-45
Relationship between physical activity and cognition among young adults
Salvi Shah1, Suchi Shah2, Shivani Chauhan2
1 Assistant Professor (Ph. D Scholar, Gujarat University), Surat, Gujarat, India
2 Internee, Department of Physiotherapy, S. P. B. Physiotherapy College, Surat, Gujarat, India
|Date of Submission||27-Sep-2018|
|Date of Decision||15-May-2019|
|Date of Acceptance||07-Jan-2020|
|Date of Web Publication||29-Jun-2020|
Dr. Salvi Shah
(Ph. D Scholar, Gujarat University), S. P. B. Physiotherapy College, Ugat-Bhesan Road, Surat - 395 005, Gujarat
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Poor cognitive functioning is a predictor of mortality at all ages and as such can be seen as a marker of general health status. Leisure-time physical activity (PA) has been shown to have a beneficial impact on cognitive function. Existing research has focused on this association in children and the elderly. However, less is focused on young adults. Hence, the purpose of the present study was to find the relationship between PA and cognition among young adults.
METHODOLOGY: Two hundred individuals (18–24 years) were selected from different colleges of Surat city after obtaining permission from the college. All necessary instructions to perform cognition tests (Rey Verbal Auditory Learning Test, Stroop test, and Trail Making Test A and B) and to fill up the International PA Questionnaire were given to participants after obtaining the consent form. Spearman's correlation was used to analyze relationships between PA and cognition among participants.
RESULTS: Results showed a significant positive correlation (r = 0.53, 0.44, and 0.68) between PA and all the three cognitive measure tests (P < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: PA is an important factor in cognitive functioning among young adults. This finding of young adults suggests that PA may be beneficial to cognition during early and middle periods of the human life span and may continue to protect against age-related loss of cognitive function during older adulthood.
Keywords: Aging, International Physical Activity Questionnaire, physical activity, Rey Verbal Auditory Learning Test, Stroop test, Trail Making Test
|How to cite this article:|
Shah S, Shah S, Chauhan S. Relationship between physical activity and cognition among young adults. Physiother - J Indian Assoc Physiother 2020;14:41-5
|How to cite this URL:|
Shah S, Shah S, Chauhan S. Relationship between physical activity and cognition among young adults. Physiother - J Indian Assoc Physiother [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Oct 27];14:41-5. Available from: https://www.pjiap.org/text.asp?2020/14/1/41/288367
| Introduction|| |
Regular physical activity (PA) is known to have numerous physical benefits. A physically active lifestyle is associated with a decreased risk of developing the most prevalent lifestyle diseases: coronary heart disease, stroke, obesity, type II diabetes and cancer (specific types). There is also evidence for enhanced cognitive function and a lower risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Despite these health benefits, physical inactivity has become a global problem. Physical activity might play a central role in ameliorating age-associated cognitive losses.
Cognition is a term that describes higher brain functions such as decision-making, calculating, problem solving, producing and using language and memory. Cognition is the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and senses. Superior cognitive function is key to maintaining a high quality of life as it helps individuals carry out day to day activities.
Evidence suggests that physical activity may play a protective role in maintaining cognitive health among older adults, as measured by tests of neurophysiologic structure and function and traditional behavioral assessments of cognition. Inverse relationships between cognitive decline and self-reported physical activity,,,,,, as well as physical fitness among older adults have been demonstrated in multiple studies. Similar relationships have been observed between physical activity and risk of dementia, vascular dementia, and AD(Alzheimer's disease)., Intervention trials have shown improved cognitive function in response to physical fitness training, and the association between physical activity and cognition seems to be most apparent with more complex cognitive processes.,, There have been few studies, however, which have examined the relationship between PA and the ability to perform cognitively complex real-world activities.
The existing literature examines the relationship between PA and cognitive function in elderly populations with evidence of cognitive decline or in children where the brain is still developing, whereas the effect of habitual PA on cognition in healthy, young to middle-aged adults has received limited attention. Public health guidelines recommend regular PA throughout life span. Adequate PA in young to middle-aged adults may potentially have immediate benefits on cognitive function, resulting in a higher quality of life while potentially delaying age-related cognitive decline. This is important for a range of reasons including the fact that the majority of the population worldwide falls into this age bracket and, additionally, that life expectancy and retirement age are predicted to increase. If PA is shown to benefit cognition in healthy young to middle-aged adults, it would be advisable to foster adequate engagement before cognitive decline steepens through aging. Hence, the purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between PA and cognition among young adults.
| Methodology|| |
A comprehensive oral description of the nature, purpose, and procedure of the study was explained to the college authorities and principal in their vernacular language. After obtaining written and verbal permission from college authorities/principal, a cross-sectional survey was conducted on young adults (n = 200) aged between 18 and 24 years from different colleges of Surat city, Gujarat. Inclusion criteria for the study were individuals who are willing to participate in study, aged between 18 and 24 years, and able to read and write English language and exclusion criteria for the study were individuals with color blindness, with any known neurological condition, with any musculoskeletal problems in last months, and with any inability to follow test instructions. Written consent was obtained from the eligible participants before the commencement of the study. Information about demographic data and educational status were obtained from the participants. Anthropometric measurements such as weight, height, waist circumference, and hip circumference were taken. All necessary instructions to perform cognition tests and to fill up the International PA Questionnaire (IPAQ) were given to all the participants. Two hundred individuals aged between 18 and 24 years were selected from different colleges of Surat city after receiving permission from the college. Randomly individuals were selected from different classes of the selected college.
To measure cognition, rey verbal auditory learning test (RVALT), Stroop test, and Trail Making Test A and B were performed by all the participants in a randomized order. A therapist explained each test and demonstrated it in a standardized manner to measure cognition. After performing the tests, results were noted by the therapist. A stopwatch was used to measure time-based tests. RVALT was performed in the group and another two were performed individually in the sequence. Score of RVALT (No. of correct words), score of Stroop test (average of time for reading congruent color word list and incongruent color word list) and score for Trail Making Test (timing for completing part A and part B) in seconds were noted. The validity and reliability of all the three tests to measure cognition were good.,,
The self-administered format for the long-version IPAQ in English was used to measure PA among the participants. The reliability and validity of this test are good., The long version IPAQ consists of 27 items that identify the frequency (times per week) and duration (minutes or hours per day) of PA performed in the activity domains of occupation (7 items); transportation (6 items); housework, house maintenance, and family care (6 items); recreation, sport, and leisure (6 items); and time spent sitting as an indicator of sedentary behavior (minutes or hours per day) in a weekday and in a weekend day (2 items). In the first four domains, the number of days per week and time per day spent in both moderate and vigorous activities are recorded. At work, during transportation and in leisure time, walking time is also included. The time was used for sedentary activities, but it was not included in the calculation of the total PA score. The IPAQ incorporates a scoring mechanism, whereby each activity is assigned an intensity code expressed in terms of metabolic equivalents (METs). The MET is the ratio of metabolic rate during the activity as compared to the metabolic rate during rest. For each type of activity, the weighted MET minute per week is calculated as follows:[Table 1].
One MET is equal to the energy expenditure during rest and is approximately equal to 3.5 ml O2/kg/min as the oxygen cost of activity and 1 kcal/kg/h as the caloric equivalent for adults. The methods used to score the long version IPAQ are presented in detail on the IPAQ website as well (www.ipaq.ki.se). The scoring protocol was followed for cleaning and truncation. The total PA MET minute/week was then computed by summing the walking, moderate, and vigorous MET minute/week scores.
Statistical analyses were done by SPSS 20 (IBM SPSS 20, trial version). Spearman's correlation was used to analyze the relationships between PA and cognition among the participants. Correlation was calculated and analyzed with the significance threshold set at P < 0.05.
| Results|| |
A total number of 200 participants (112 females and 88 males) were included in the present study. The physical characteristics of all the participants are shown in [Table 2]. The mean value of three different cognitive tests for all the participants is shown in [Table 3]. The classification of PA among the participants has been shown in [Table 4]. The correlation between PA and cognition is shown in [Table 5]. Results of the present study showed that a positive correlation between PA and all three cognitive measures tests.
| Discussion|| |
The study was aimed to find the relationship between PA and cognitive functions among young adults. Results of the study showed a positive correlation (P < 0.05) between PA and cognitive function (episodic memory and executive function).
Few studies reported a significant positive association between PA and executive function.,,,,, Two studies noted nonsignificant, positive trends, and four studies noted null result.,,, One of the reviews suggested that episodic memory was found to be significantly positively associated with PA in two studies, but not in another.
A range of plausible biological mechanisms may explain how PA influences cognitive functioning. These include structural changes to the central nervous system, neurotransmitter release, modulation of arousal levels, and enhanced cerebral capillary density/blood flow. Exercise increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor which mediate short- and long-term enhancement of synaptic strength and reduce cell death in the hippocampus. These neurotrophic, angiogenic, and neurogenic and synaptogenesis effects may play a role as both an enhancer and a protector of cognitive function and central nervous system integrity. The role of central (BDNF) and peripheral (estrogens, corticosteroids, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor-1) factors in mediation of the effects of physical exercise on brain functions has been promoted. Further research is needed and should make the use of newer technologies in molecular biology and imaging to assist in studying the underpinning biological mechanisms. In addition to its role in health promotion, PA could also reduce the economic burden to society related to chronic degenerative diseases (e.g. hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease) that impair cognitive functioning., Evidence of a benefit of PA in the elderly provides evidence of neuroplasticity even in old age. It is, therefore, plausible that PA might modify cognitive function in earlier adulthood and that these changes might enhance existing cognitive function or attenuates the decline with aging. Recent reviews indicate that high cardiovascular fitness may be particularly beneficial for brain volume in prefrontal regions,, consistent with the selective effects of chronic exercise on executive function shown in recent studies.,,
There are certain limitations to the study. The sample size of the study was relatively small, thus limiting statistical power and the generalizability of the results. The study used a cross-sectional design, and therefore, the performance effects attributed to variable amounts of PA may be due to other factors. Another limitation is the use of self-reported measures of PA rather than objective measures of activity (e.g., pedometer or accelerometer) and fitness (e.g., VO2). Hence, the longitudinal study with large sample size along with objective measurement of PA can be done. A future research with consideration of examining the differential effects on cognition of moderate versus vigorous physical activity, as well as the amount of physical activity along with the use of brain imaging techniques in conjunction with cognitive tests can be done.
| Conclusion|| |
Results of the study showed that PA has an important role in cognitive functioning among young adults. This finding of young adults suggests that PA may be beneficial to cognition during early and middle periods of the human life span and may continue to protect against age-related loss of cognitive function during older adulthood. The results indicate that regular PA has a beneficial effect on the cognitive processes on executive function in young adults.
The authors would like to thank all the participants as well as principals of the college for their kind cooperation and giving permission to collect data from their colleges.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
| References|| |
Cox EP, O'Dwyer N, Cook R, Vetter M, Cheng HL, Rooney K, et al
. Relationship between physical activity and cognitive function in apparently healthy young to middle-aged adults: A systematic review. J Sci Med Sport 2016;19:616-28.
Grassmann V, Subramaniapillai M, Duncan M, Arbour-Nicitopoulos K, Faulkner GE. The relationship between moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and executive function among individuals with schizophrenia: Differences by illness duration. Braz J Psychiatry 2017;39:309-15.
Haley C. Exploring the Relationship between Physical Activity and Everyday Cognitive Function in Older Adults: Within-and Between-Person Variability 2013.
Samantha R. Exercise and Cognition in Young Adults. Psychological Sciences Undergraduate Publications. Presentations and Projects; 2015.
Small DM. Individual differences in the neurophysiology of reward and the obesity epidemic. Int J Obes (Lond) 2009;33 Suppl 2:S44-8.
Ball K, Brown W, Crawford D. Who does not gain weight? Prevalence and predictors of weight maintenance in young women. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2002;26:1570-8.
McAuley E, Kramer AF, Colcombe SJ. Cardiovascular fitness and neurocognitive function in older adults: A brief review. Brain Behav Immun 2004;18:214-20.
Lindwall M, Rennemark M, Berggren T. Movement in mind: The relationship of exercise with cognitive status for older adults in the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care (SNAC). Aging Ment Health 2008;12:212-20.
Lytle ME, Vander Bilt J, Pandav RS, Dodge HH, Ganguli M. Exercise level and cognitive decline: The MoVIES project. Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord 2004;18:57-64.
Middleton L, Kirkland S, Rockwood K. Prevention of CIND by physical activity: Different impact on VCI-ND compared with MCI. J Neurol Sci 2008;269:80-4.
van Gelder BM, Tijhuis MA, Kalmijn S, Giampaoli S, Nissinen A, Kromhout D. Physical activity in relation to cognitive decline in elderly men: The FINE Study. Neurology 2004;63:2316-21.
Yaffe K, Barnes D, Nevitt M, Lui LY, Covinsky K. A prospective study of physical activity and cognitive decline in elderly women: Women who walk. Arch Intern Med 2001;161:1703-8.
Wang L, Larson EB, Bowen JD, van Belle G. Performance-based physical function and future dementia in older people. Arch Intern Med 2006;166:1115-20.
Podewils LJ, Guallar E, Kuller LH, Fried LP, Lopez OL, Carlson M, et al
. Physical activity, APOE genotype, and dementia risk: Findings from the Cardiovascular Health Cognition Study. Am J Epidemiol 2005;161:639-51.
Ravaglia G, Forti P, Lucicesare A, Pisacane N, Rietti E, Bianchin M, et al
. Physical activity and dementia risk in the elderly: Findings from a prospective Italian study. Neurology 2008;70:1786-94.
Colcombe S, Kramer AF. Fitness effects on the cognitive function of older adults: A meta-analytic study. Psychol Sci 2003;14:125-30.
Bixby WR, Spalding TW, Haufler AJ, Deeny SP, Mahlow PT, Zimmerman JB, et al
. The unique relation of physical activity to executive function in older men and women. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2007;39:1408-16.
Hillman CH, Kramer AF, Belopolsky AV, Smith DP. A cross-sectional examination of age and physical activity on performance and event-related brain potentials in a task switching paradigm. Int J Psychophysiol 2006;59:30-9.
Smiley-Oyen AL, Lowry KA, Francois SJ, Kohut ML, Ekkekakis P. Exercise, fitness, and neurocognitive function in older adults: The “selective improvement” and “cardiovascular fitness” hypotheses. Ann Behav Med 2008;36:280-91.
Angevaren M, Aufdemkampe G, Verhaar HJ, Aleman A, Vanhees L. Physical activity and enhanced fitness to improve cognitive function in older people without known cognitive impairment. Cochrane database of systematic reviews. 2008(2).
Fedewa AL, Ahn S. The effects of physical activity and physical fitness on children's achievement and cognitive outcomes: A meta-analysis. Res Q Exerc Sport 2011;82:521-35.
Garber CE, Blissmer B, Deschenes MR, Franklin BA, Lamonte MJ, Lee IM, et al
. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: Guidance for prescribing exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2011;43:1334-59.
Statistics AB. Life Expectancy Trends-Australia. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics; 2011.
Chang YK, Huang CJ, Chen KF, Hung TM. Physical activity and working memory in healthy older adults: An ERP study. Psychophysiology 2013;50:1174-82.
Paula JJ, Melo LP, Nicolato R, Moraes EN, Bicalho MA, Hamdan AC, et al
. Reliability and construct validity of the rey-auditory verbal learning test in Brazilian elders. Arch Clin Psychiatr (São Paulo) 2012;39:19-23.
Siegrist M. Test-retest reliability of different versions of the stroop test. J Psychol 1997;131:299-306.
Wagner S, Helmreich I, Dahmen N, Lieb K, Tadic A. Reliability of three alternate forms of the trail making tests a and B. Arch Clin Neuropsychol 2011;26:314-21.
Craig CL, Marshall AL, Sjöström M, Bauman AE, Booth ML, Ainsworth BE, et al
. International physical activity questionnaire: 12-country reliability and validity. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2003;35:1381-95.
Hagströmer M, Oja P, Sjöström M. The International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ): A study of concurrent and construct validity. Public Health Nutr 2006;9:755-62.
Hagstromer M, Ainsworth BE, Oja P, Sjostrom M. Comparison of a subjective and an objective measure of physical activity in a population sample. J Phys Act Health 2010;7:541-50.
IPAQ Research Committee. Guidelines for Data Processing and Analysis of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) – Short and Long Form. IPAQ Research Committee; November 2005. Available from: http://www. ipaq. ki.se
Nor Shazwani MN Jr, Suzana S, Hanis Mastura Y, Lim CJ, Teh SC, Mohd Fauzee MZ, et al
. Assessment of physical activity level among individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus at Cheras health clinic, Kuala Lumpur. Malays J Nutr 2010;16:101-12.
Gligoroska JP, Manchevska S. The effect of physical activity on cognition – Physiological mechanisms. Mater Sociomed 2012;24:198-202.
Padilla C, Perez L, Andres P, Parmentier FB. Exercise improves cognitive control: evidence from the stop signal task. Appl Cogn Psychol 2013;27:505-11.
Hillman CH, Motl RW, Pontifex MB, Posthuma D, Stubbe JH, Boomsma DI, et al
. Physical activity and cognitive function in a cross-section of younger and older community-dwelling individuals. Health Psychol 2006;25:678-87.
Kamijo K, Takeda Y. General physical activity levels influence positive and negative priming effects in young adults. Clin Neurophysiol 2009;120:511-9.
Kamijo K, Takeda Y. Regular physical activity improves executive function during task switching in young adults. Int J Psychophysiol 2010;75:304-11.
Pérez L, Padilla C, Parmentier FB, Andrés P. The effects of chronic exercise on attentional networks. PLoS One 2014;9:e101478.
Winneke AH, Godde B, Reuter EM, Vieluf S, Voelcker-Rehage C. The association between physical activity and attentional control in younger and older middle-aged adults. GeroPsych 2012 Nov 29..
Woo E, Sharps MJ. Cognitive aging and physical exercise. Educ Gerontol 2003;29:327-37.
Spirduso WW. Reaction and movement time as a function of age and physical activity level. J Gerontol 1975;30:435-40.
Padilla C, Pérez L, Andrés P. Chronic exercise keeps working memory and inhibitory capacities fit. Front Behav Neurosci 2014;8:49.
Boucard GK, Albinet CT, Bugaiska A, Bouquet CA, Clarys D, Audiffren M. Impact of physical activity on executive functions in aging: A selective effect on inhibition among old adults. J Sport Exerc Psychol 2012;34:808-27.
Erickson KI, Banducci SE, Weinstein AM, Macdonald AW 3rd
, Ferrell RE, Halder I, et al
. The brain-derived neurotrophic factor Val66Met polymorphism moderates an effect of physical activity on working memory performance. Psychol Sci 2013;24:1770-9.
Heisz JJ, Vandermorris S, Wu J, McIntosh AR, Ryan JD. Age differences in the association of physical activity, sociocognitive engagement, and TV viewing on face memory. Health Psychol 2015;34:83-8.
Swain RA, Harris AB, Wiener EC, Dutka MV, Morris HD, Theien BE, et al
. Prolonged exercise induces angiogenesis and increases cerebral blood volume in primary motor cortex of the rat. Neuroscience 2003;117:1037-46.
Cotman CW, Berchtold NC. Exercise: A behavioral intervention to enhance brain health and plasticity. Trends Neurosci 2002;25:295-301.
World Health Organization. Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health. Public Significance of Physical Activity. Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2010. p. 10.
Hötting K, Röder B. Beneficial effects of physical exercise on neuroplasticity and cognition. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 2013;37:2243-57.
Voss MW, Nagamatsu LS, Liu-Ambrose T, Kramer AF. Exercise, brain, and cognition across the life span. J Appl Physiol (1985) 2011;111:1505-13.
Hillman CH, Erickson KI, Kramer AF. Be smart, exercise your heart: Exercise effects on brain and cognition. Nat Rev Neurosci 2008;9:58-65.
[Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5]