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Effect of cardiovascular fitness on cognitive functions among male medical students of South Kerala

Prashanth P, Arun Kumar H P.

Background׃ Cardiovascular fitness has a beneficial effect on cognition and brain function in children. However, due to conflicting results in relationship between acute exercise and cognitive function in young adults, the data remain unknown. Hence, the present study is aimed to assess the effect of cardiovascular fitness on cognitive functions in healthy young adults.

Aims and Objectives: The aims of the study were as follows: (1) To assess the cardiovascular fitness among male medical students using Harvard step test, (2) to study the audiovisual reaction time and critical flicker-fusion frequency (CFFF) among male medical students, and (3) to study the correlation between cardiovascular fitness and cognitive functions.

Materials and Methods: A comparative study was conducted among 100 male medical students of the age group of 1825 years and they were randomly chosen into the study and control group. All were subjected to cognitive function tests such as visual reaction time (VRT), auditory reaction time (ART), and CFFF and pre-scores were recorded. Each subject from the study group underwent Harvard step test at a rate of 22/min for 5 min or until exhaustion for which fitness index was calculated. Cognitive tests were repeated within 5 min after exercise and post-exercise values were also recorded. The same cognitive tests were assessed in the control group after resting for 10 min.

Results: The pre-values and post-exercise values of the study group showed a significant difference in cognitive functions. The pre-values and post rest values of the control group had no significant difference. The pre-values of the study group and control group had no significant difference. The post-values of the study group and control group had significant difference. There was also a correlation between the fitness index and some cognitive function tests such as VRT and CFFF in the study group.

Conclusion: There was a decrease in VRT and ART and increase in CFFF after exercise in the study group, which suggests that there was a positive influence of acute moderate exercise on cognitive functions.

Key words: Cardiovascular Fitness; Cognitive Function Tests; Young Adults; Fitness Index

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