Effects of Short-Term Physical Activity Interventions on Simple and Choice Response Times
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Objective. Response time (RT) is important for health and human performance and provides insight into cognitive processes. It deteriorates with age, is associated with chronic physical activity (PA), and improves with PA interventions. We investigated associations between the amount and type of PA undertaken and the rate of change in RT for low-active adults across the age range 18–63 yr. Methods. Insufficiently active adults were assigned to either a walking (𝑛 = 263) or higher-intensity (𝑛 = 380) exercise program conducted over 40 days. Active controls were also recruited (𝑛 = 135). Simple response time (SRT) and choice response time (CRT) were measured before and after the intervention and at 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-up. Results. SRT and CRT slowed across the age range; however, habitually active participants at baseline had significantly faster CRT (𝑝 < 0.05). The interventions increased weekly PA with corresponding increases in physical fitness. These changes were mirrored in faster CRT across the study for both intervention groups (𝑝 < 0.05). No changes were found for SRT. Conclusions. Both PA interventions resulted in improvements in CRT among adults starting from a low activity base. These improvements were relatively rapid and occurred in both interventions despite large differences in exercise volume, type, and intensity. There were no effects on SRT in either intervention.