Updated: Feb 16, 2022
Everybody knows the physical benefits of exercise; better mobility, being healthier, keeping fit, lower blood pressure, lowering the risk of some lethal diseases, the list goes on! But what about the cognitive gains of exercise. There are a lot of motivational books, magazine columns and TV shows where someone advocates for exercise making them feel amazing or using exercise as a coping mechanism to get through their troubles. However, I am only interested in the science of exercise, not what someone preaches on television. Which makes me question, what cognitive benefits does exercising actually have?
Ines Vanderbeken and Eric Kerckhofs conducted a literature review on the effects of physical exercise on cognition in stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients. Vanderbeken and Kerckhofs scanned research databases such as PubMed and ScienceDirect and put together all the research regarding exercise in stroke and TBI patients. They filtered the papers down to 14 which only included papers with a cognitive assessment before and after the exercise intervention.
The review concluded that;
'Physical exercise appears to be a safe, non-invasive rehabilitation method to alleviate cognitive problems, especially in stroke patients'.
The findings from the review specifically suggested that physical exercise enhanced global cognitive functioning and resistance training combined with aerobic training also led to better cognitive functioning. The review also highlighted that 'activating therapy' had the biggest effect on cognitive functioning. The research from the review consistently pronounced the benefits of physical exercise on cognitive functioning.
This is part of the research that led to us to create our Activated Personal Training Programmes. In these programmes we get the client involves as much as possible, aiming to promote engagement and enhance cognitive functioning.