The Effects of Physical Exertion on Cognitive Performance

Report No. ARL-TR-2844
Authors: Andrea S. Krausman, Harrison P. Crowell III, and Rhoda M. Wilson
Date/Pages: November 2002; 50 pages
Abstract: This study examined the cognitive and physiological performance of soldiers as they exercised on a treadmill at various grades. Twelve soldiers walked at 1.56 m/sec on three grades, 0%, 3.5%, and 7.0%. The cognitive tasks performed by the soldiers were taken from the Walter Reed Performance Assessment Battery. The tasks chosen for this study included two reaction time tasks, an arithmetic task, and a decision-making task. Three measures were used to evaluate performance of the cognitive tasks: accuracy (percent correct), response time (responses per minute), and throughput (hits per minute). The physiological variables were heart rate and rating of perceived exertion. The findings of the research strongly support the fact that physical exertion does impact cognitive performance. Results indicate that the physical exertion facilitated performance of the two reaction time tasks and the decision-making task. Performance of the arithmetic task was degraded. The physiological results were compatible with those of progressive exercise.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: November 1, 2002