Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Effects of Acute Static Stretching on Visual Search Performance and Mood State

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Effects of Acute Static Stretching on Visual Search Performance and Mood State

Article excerpt


The relationship between acute exercise and cognitive function is the subject of increasing attention, as new evidence indicates that acute exercise improves cognitive function (Brisswalter, Collardeau, & Rene, 2002; Byun et al., 2014; Chang, Labban, Gapin, & Etnier, 2012; Lambourne & Tomporowski, 2010; McMorris, Sproule, Turner, & Hale, 2011). Cognitive functions are multifaceted, and include attention, memory, and decision-making, all of which are required in daily life. According to a recent review summarizing the relationship between cognitive function and exercise at various intensities, low to moderate intensity exercise leads to improved cognitive function (Chang et al., 2012). However, the way in which acute low intensity exercise affects cognitive function is unclear. In this study, we focused on static stretching, which is low intensity and thus applicable to a varied population. Characterization of the impact of acute static stretching may facilitate the design of low-intensity exercises that enhance cognitive function.

In a visual search task, participants selectively detect a target stimulus from visual stimuli presented in a large section of the visual field. Visual search tasks require selective attention as well as visual information processing (Fredrickson & Branigan, 2005; Ueda & Yoshikawa, 2012; Yoshikawa & Ueda, 2012). Thus, visual search task performance is thought to reflect one aspect of cognitive function. To date, several studies have reported that visual search performance is affected by mood state (Fredrickson & Branigan, 2005; Mikels, Reuter-Lorenz, Beyer, & Fredrickson, 2008). Additionally, participants tend to process information about large portions of the visual field when they are in a positive mood state, and process information about narrow areas when they are in a negative mood (Gasper, 2004; Gasper & Clore, 2002; Murakami, 2010). Since static stretching leads to improvements in mood state (Nagamatsu & Kai, 2014), it is possible that a static stretching-induced increase in positive mood state will affect performance in visual search task.

Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the effects of acute static stretching on visual search performance. Specifically, we tested the hypothesis that alterations in mood state following static stretching would improve visual search performance. In addition to mood state, we also examined alterations in cerebral hemodynamics and oxygenation via near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to test whether physiological alterations in the prefrontal cortex were associated with alterations in visual search performance. We hoped to gain insights about the interactions among static stretching, mood state, and visual search performance.

Materials and Methods


Sixteen healthy male volunteers participated in this study. Participants were normotensive and free from cardiovascular, metabolic, or neurological diseases. They gave written informed consent prior to participation. This study was approved by the ethics committee of the Meiji Yasuda Life Foundation of Health and Welfare, Physical Fitness Research Institute (approval number: No. 26004), and was in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki.


The participants arrived at the laboratory at least 1 hour before the experiment. After they arrived, they abstained from exercise and remained seated until the cessation of the experiment. The participants were randomly assigned to either the control group (N=8) or the stretching exercise group (N=8). At the beginning of the experiment, we assessed the mood state of the participants in both groups via questionnaire. Then, the participants performed a visual search task. Following this, the participants in the stretching group completed a static stretching program. The program, which lasted 30 min, comprised stretches involving whole body muscles. …

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