Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Master of Science




Heath, Matthew


A single-bout of aerobic and/or resistance training for durations as brief as 10-min improves executive function across a continuum of aerobically sustainable intensities. The goal of my thesis was to determine whether sprint interval training (SIT) elicits a post-exercise benefit in executive function in a corpus of high-fit individuals (i.e., varsity rowers). SIT sessions entailed 30 s “as hard as you can” efforts, interspersed by 90 s active recovery intervals (i.e., low resistance movement) for a duration of 10-min. Separate SIT sessions were completed via sport- (i.e., rowing ergometer) and non-sport-specific (i.e., cycle ergometer) modalities to determine if a putative SIT executive benefit is related to metabolic or intensity demands. Pre- and post-exercise executive control was measured via the antisaccade task. Pro- and antisaccade post-exercise RTs improved – a result that was independent of exercise modality. Accordingly, results suggest that SIT contributes to a post-exercise benefit in arousal.

Summary for Lay Audience

This study examined whether a session of sprint-interval training (SIT) produces an improvement to executive function. High-fit individuals were used in my study because the effect is not greatly seen in low-fit individuals. The exercise protocol consisted of 30 second ‘as hard as you can go’ efforts separated by 90 seconds of light exercise. The 30 second pieces were completed 5 times for a total of 10 minutes of exercise. The antisaccade task was performed before the exercise task and them immediately after once the participant’s heart rate got below 100 beats per minute. There were two different exercise types. Each participant would complete the exercise task on a rowing ergometer and a cycling ergometer. I found that antisaccades produce longer reaction times than prosaccades which is consistent with other studies. I found a decrease in antisaccade reaction times from the pre-exercise antisaccade task to the post-exercise antisaccade task. I also found a decrease in post-exercise prosaccades. This suggests that after SIT, there is an increase in physiological arousal as well.