This study aimed to determine the comparative effectiveness of aerobic vs. resistance exercise on cognitive function. In addition, salivary cortisol responses, as an indicator of arousal-related neuroendocrine responses, were assessed as a potential mechanism underlying the effects of these 2 modes of acute exercise on cognition. Forty-two young adults were recruited and performed the Stroop task after 1 session of aerobic exercise, resistance exercise, and a sedentary condition performed on separate days. Saliva samples were collected at baseline and immediately and 30 min after treatment conditions. Acute exercise, regardless of exercise modality, improved multiple aspects of cognitive function as reflected by the Stroop task. Cortisol responses were higher after both modes of acute exercise compared with the sedentary condition and were higher at baseline and 30 min afterward compared with immediately after treatment conditions. These findings suggest that acute exercise of moderate intensity facilitates cognitive function, and, although salivary cortisol is influenced by acute exercise, levels were not related to improvements in cognition.
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