Low intensity exercise does not impact cognitive function during exposure to normobaric hypoxia
Exposure to hypoxia is associated with cognitive impairment, mediated by cerebral deoxygenation. This can be problematic for individuals who perform mental tasks at high altitude. Eight healthy men completed two experimental trials consisting of 5h of exposure to normobaric hypoxia (12.5% O2). In one of the experimental trials (Hypoxia) subjects remained resting in a seated position the entire 5h; in the other experimental trial (Hypoxia and Exercise) subjects rested 2h, cycled for 1h at constant wattage (workload equivalent to 50% of altitude adjusted VO2max), then rested the last 2h. Cerebral oxygenation was measured continuously via near-infrared spectroscopy and cognitive performance was assessed by Trail Making Test A and B. Cerebral oxygenation and cognitive performance both were impaired during exposure to hypoxia. In the Hypoxia and Exercise trial, subjects experienced further declinations in cerebral oxygenation without concomitant decreases in cognitive function. These data demonstrate that cognitive function declines during exposure to normobaric hypoxia and this decline is not exacerbated by low intensity exercise.
Physiology and Behavior
Kim, C. H.; Ryan, E. J.; Seo, Y.; Peacock, Corey Allen; Gunstad, J.; Muller, M. D.; Ridgel, A. L.; and Glickman, E. L., "Low intensity exercise does not impact cognitive function during exposure to normobaric hypoxia" (2015). Department of Health and Human Performance Faculty Articles. 42.