The effects of high-intensity interval exercise and hypoxia on cognition in sedentary young adults

Shengyan Sun, Paul D. Loprinzi, Hongwei Guan, Liye Zou, Zhaowei Kong, Yang Hu, Qingde Shi, Jinlei Nie

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Objectives: Limited research has evaluated the effects of acute exercise on cognition under different conditions of inspired oxygenation. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the effects of high-intensity interval exercise (HIE) under normoxia (inspired fraction of oxygen (FIO2): 0.209) and moderate hypoxia (FIO2: 0.154) on cognitive function. Design: A single-blinded cross-over design was used to observe the main effects of exercise and oxygen level, and interaction effects on cognitive task performance. Methods: Twenty inactive adults (10 males and 10 females, 19–27 years old) performed a cognitive task (i.e., the Go/No-Go task) before and immediately after an acute bout of HIE under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. The HIE comprised 10 repetitions of 6 s high-intensity cycling against 7.5% body weight interspersed with 30 s passive recovery. Heart rate, peripheral oxygen saturation (SpO2) and rating of perceived exertion were monitored. Results: The acute bout of HIE did not affect the reaction time (p = 0.204, η2 = 0.083) but the accuracy rate decreased significantly after HIE under both normoxic and hypoxic conditions (p = 0.001, η2 = 0.467). Moreover, moderate hypoxia had no influence either on reaction time (p = 0.782, η2 = 0.004) or response accuracy (p = 0.972, η2 < 0.001). Conclusions: These results indicate that an acute session of HIE may impair response accuracy immediately post-HIE, without sacrificing reaction time. Meanwhile moderate hypoxia was found to have no adverse effect on cognitive function in inactive young adults, at least in the present study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number43
JournalMedicina (Lithuania)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Cognitive function
  • Go/No-Go task
  • Peripheral oxygen saturation
  • Reaction time
  • Response accuracy


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