Isometric exercise and cognitive function: an investigation of acute dose–response effects during submaximal fatiguing contractions
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The purpose of this study was to explore the dose-response relationship between exercise and cognitive performance using an acute bout of isometric exercise. University students (N = 55) were randomly assigned to control, 30%, 50% and 70% of maximum voluntary handgrip contraction groups. Participants performed a modified Stroop task before and after completion of an isometric handgrip endurance trial at their assigned exercise intensity. Ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) and forearm muscle activation (EMG) showed linear trends of progressively greater RPE and muscle activation at greater exercise intensity levels. Regression analysis showed significant (P < .05) linear degradations in frequency of errors on the Stroop task with increasing exercise intensity. We conclude that performing isometric exercise until exhaustion is associated with reduced cognitive performance and that higher intensity isometric exercise leads to greater performance impairments in a linear dose-response manner.
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