Research regarding the effects of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on executive function has grown exponentially in recent years. However, there has been no comprehensive review of the current state of literature. Therefore, the aim of this systematic review is to summarize previous research regarding the acute and chronic effects of HIIT on executive function across the lifespan and highlight future research directions. The results indicated that acute bouts of HIIT has a positive effect on inhibition in children/adolescents and adults, and further that chronic HIIT benefits inhibition and working memory in children. More research employing chronic interventions, focusing on middle-aged and older adults, and examining the effects on the working memory and cognitive flexibility domains of executive function are needed. Future research should also focus on a) the use of stronger research designs, b) the effects of HIIT dosage/modality, c) consideration of individual differences, d) possible underlying mechanisms, and e) examining the feasibility of translating HIIT to real-word settings.
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