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Introduction: Physical activity is recommended to maintain physical health. In addition, it is also thought that exercise affects the brain in different ways that may counteract the effects of mental deficiency, such as encouraging neurogenesis and improving cerebral perfusion and increasing cerebral blood flow.
Background: Physical exercise and fitness have been proposed as potential factors that promote healthy cognitive function.
Objective: Our objective was to evaluate the effects of a training program with standardized exercise on reaction time in male adolescents with mental deficiency.
Method: A total of 51 male adolescents, aged 14 to 16 years were divided into three groups: (1) healthy group (HG: 17 healthy school children without any mental deficiency), (2) a trained group (TG: n=17) that participated in an aerobic programme,consisting of one daily session (~60 min),twice weekly, during a period of three months, and (3) a sedentary group (SG: n=17, that performed no training). HG and TG were participants with mild mental deficiency. The software “REACTION” was used to measure the reaction time in response to visual stimulus at different periods (at rest: one day before exercise, immediately after exercise and one day after exercise). Anthropometric characteristics were determined in the three groups. All measurements were determined before and after the experimental period.
Comparisons were determined for intra and inter-groups.
Results: The results showed significant differences (p<0.001) in reaction time between SG and TG in the different time periods. In addition, the mean of reaction time in TG was similar to that observed in HG.
Conclusions: This research suggests that three months of regular exercise training significantly improved reaction time and consequently the cognitive function in mild mentally deficient adolescents. Physical activity seems to be an indispensable means of improving performance of cognitive activity in adolescents with mild mental deficiency. In addition, these results could be used to justify the relationship between task difficulty and exercise.