Journal of Undergraduate Research


impact of exercise on memory, American Heart Association, cognitive processing


Family, Home, and Social Sciences




Many studies have shown a correlation between physical exercise and healthy cognitive processing. It has been shown extensively that regular exercise has a positive impact on brain health. One example is a study that linked increased exercise with greater performance on as shown via a Stroop Color-Word test [1]. Similarly, regular exercise has been shown to be related to improved memory and object recognition [2]. Another study has shown that even a single session of exercise can alter functional connectivity in the brain as measured by the resting-state fMRI [3]. The problem with this literature is an utter lack of universal standards that constitute exercise. Most studies split a group of individuals into “high” and “low” exercisers. Sometimes the “high” exercisers are Olympian athletes—an impractical standard of exercise for the general public. This study has used the standards of exercise set forth by the American Heart Association (AHA) to provide a common convention for a scattered field of literature. To our knowledge, no previous studies have examined specifically how meeting the physical activity guidelines prescribed by the American Heart Association impact cognitive function. While we are currently aware that increased exercise benefits cognition, no previous studies have established an optimal level of that exercise. Our research addresses whether the guidelines of the AHA are sufficient to create a significant improvement in brain health.

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