Brief exercise improves mental performance in people with chronic lung disease

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A new study suggests that a single, short burst of moderately intense exercise gives a mental boost to people with a serious lung disease.

Immediately after 20 minutes of riding a stationary bicycle, people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) showed improvement in cognitive function, said Charles Emery, a study co-author and an associate professor of psychology at Ohio State University.

The fourth-leading cause of death in the United States, COPD impairs airflow in the lungs. Reduced airflow means less oxygen is available to the brain, rendering people with the disease at risk for worsened mental function. Exercise tends to increase airflow in the lungs.

"People with chronic lung disease may have problems with fluid intelligence - the ability to take new material and make sense of it," Emery said. "Exercise seems to help these individuals think more efficiently."

The study appears in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The researchers evaluated the effects of a single session of moderately intense exercise on 58 adults - 29 had COPD and 29 were healthy. The subjects ranged in age from 56 to 85 years.

Each participant was asked to ride a stationary bicycle for 20

Contact: Charles Emery
Ohio State University

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