Effect of a Single Bout of Acute Aerobic Exercise at Moderate-to-Vigorous Intensities on Motor Learning, Retention and Transfer

Håvard Lorås*, Monika Haga, Hermundur Sigmundsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Acute exercise influences human cognition, and evidence suggests that learning can be improved. According to the cognitive–energetic approach towards exercise cognition, exercise represents a stressor that elevates physiological arousal, which, in turn, increases the availability of mental resources. However, the degree of arousal is hypothesized to have optimal and suboptimal states, and moderate intensity exercise is thus considered to be favorable compared to low intensity and vigorous exercise. The current evidence for such a moderating effect of exercise intensity on motor learning, however, appears somewhat mixed. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the effect of aerobic exercise conducted with different exercise intensities on immediate practice, transfer, and 24-h retention of a motor skill. To this end, young adults (n = 40, mean (SD) age: 23.80 (1.98) years) were randomized to exercise at either 50% or 75% of age-predicted maximal heart rate according to the Karvonen formulae. Immediately after exercising, participants practiced a high-precision golf putting task in a blocked design. Retention and transfer of skill were assessed after 24 h. Results indicated that both groups demonstrated motor learning, retention, and transfer at a similar level. Further works are thus needed to establish the specific relationship between exercise and learning and establish the factors that have an influence.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Other keywords

  • arousal
  • endurance training
  • motor skill
  • practice


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