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A growing body of research suggests that physical activity and exercise enhance a wide range of cognitive and affective wellbeing, including attention, executive functions, memory and learning, divergent thinking, resilience, and mental health. Physical exercise has also been recommended for the clinical ...

A growing body of research suggests that physical activity and exercise enhance a wide range of cognitive and affective wellbeing, including attention, executive functions, memory and learning, divergent thinking, resilience, and mental health. Physical exercise has also been recommended for the clinical treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders such as dementia, major depression, and anxiety disorders. However, firstly, it is still unclear what kind of physical activity and exercise conducted on how long a timescale brings maximal benefits to a specific outcome of interest for a specific population. Additionally, important moderators and mediators are to be investigated in order to dissect the heterogeneity of the responses. Secondly, how findings reported so far can be incorporated into daily practice by the general public and in educational, neurological, and psychiatric contexts remain unaddressed. Thirdly, the underlying physiological, in particular neurobiological, mechanisms whereby physical activity and exercise enhance cognitive and affective wellbeing are not clear. Several potential mechanisms have been proposed, including the activation of the prefrontal cortices and the dopamine and serotonin neurotransmission, the release of neurotrophins, the enhancement of neural plasticity and neurogenesis, and the decrease of neuroinflammation.

The aim of this Research Topic is to publish a wide range of studies that help address these unsolved issues and advance our understanding of the cognitive and affective benefits of physical activity and exercise. Any topics relevant to cognitive functions, affective wellbeing, and mental health are welcome. The physical activity or exercise can be acute or chronic (i.e., conducted on a regular basis). The subjects can be healthy human volunteers, clinical patients, or animals of different ages and sexes. Article types include, but are not limited to, original research, brief research reports, clinical trials, reviews, meta-analyses, hypothesis and theory articles. For original research and brief research reports, the design can be cross-sectional, longitudinal, or interventional.

The following subtopics are welcome:

• The optimal levels/types of physical activity and exercise for improving academic performance, cognitive functions, or affective wellbeing.
• Clinical trials investigating the effectiveness and efficacy of physical activity and exercise for the treatment of neurological or psychiatric disorders.
• Predictors of the cognitive and affective benefits of physical activity and exercise.
• Neurobiological mechanisms underlying the cognitive and affective benefits of physical activity and exercise.
• Practical approaches and strategies (e.g., mobile app-based interventions) to increase or maintain physical activity and exercise in everyday life.


We would like to thank Dr. Yasuhiro Mochizuki for their contribution to the development of this article collection

Keywords: Physical activity, physical exercise, sports, fitness, cognitive functions, memory, dementia, aging, academic performance, emotion, mental health, brain, neuroprotection, neural plasticity, neurogenesis, neuroinflammation, neuroimaging, neurobiology


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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