Sporting Activity And Cognitive Performance


A new large-scale analysis of 80 individual studies provides recommendations for achieving better mental fitness through exercise.

All age groups benefit

A person’s cognitive performance and physical condition change throughout their lifetime. The analysis showed that sporting activities do not have to be different to improve cognitive performance amidst all ages. This why exercising together is a good idea. Researchers said, “This is already being implemented selectively with joint exercise programs for children and their grandparents.” Programs like this could be expanded.

Gender differences

Research has confirmed the same amount of physical activity impacts differently the physical and mental fitness of men and women. It is not the type of sport that makes the distinction between genders, but the intensity of exercise. Men benefit from intense exercise. For men to achieve a significant improvement in cognitive performance, there needs to be a progressive increase in exercise intensity over a sustained amount of time.

As for women, they should opt for low to medium intensity sporting activities, and keep in mind that the positive effect disappears if the intensity is increased too quickly, according to the research.

Coordinated sports are more effective

Strength training, endurance training, or a combination of these appear to improve cognitive performance. Although, coordinated sports that demand intricate patterns and communication with other players are much more effective. 

“To coordinate during a sport seems to be even more important than the total volume of the sporting activity,” researchers note.

A higher amount of physical activity ensures improvement in cognitive performance, but this only works when it is maintained over a sustained amount of time. Meaning you don’t have to exercise longer to see great results, just consistently.


How exercise supports your mental fitness: Current recommendations