Enhancing Consolidation Of A Rotational Visuomotor Adaptation Task Through Acute Exercise

We assessed the effect of a single bout of intense exercise on the adaptation and consolidation of a rotational visuomotor task, together with the effect of the order of exercise presentation relative to the learning task. Healthy adult participants (n = 29) were randomly allocated to one of three experimental groups: (1) exercise before task practice, (2) exercise after task practice, and (3) task practice only. After familiarization with the learning task, participants undertook a baseline practice set. Then, four 60° clockwise rotational sets were performed, comprising an adaptation set and three retention sets at 1 h, 24 h, and 7 days after the adaptation set. Depending on the experimental group, exercise was presented before or after the adaptation sets. We found that error reduction during adaptation was similar regardless of when exercise was presented. During retention, significant error reduction was found in the retention set at 1 h for both exercise groups, but this enhancement was not present during subsequent retention sets, with no differences present between exercise groups. We conclude that an acute bout of intense exercise could positively affect retention, although the order in which exercise is presented does not appear to influence its benefits during the early stages of consolidation.