Date of Award

Winter 1-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Education In Exercise Science Degree


Health And Human Performance

First Advisor

Kullman, Emily

Second Advisor

Dr. Kenneth Sparks

Third Advisor

Dr. Douglas Wajda


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of gender on acute exercise induced BDNF and cognitive function among older individuals. The hypothesis was that exercise would increase BDNF levels and enhance cognitive processing time post exercise followed by a drop in BDNF and return cognitive processing time to baseline post-30 minutes. It was also hypothesized that women would have higher BDNF values compared to men. Methods: The subjects consisted of 18 active males (n = 9) and females (n = 9). The subjects took part in an exercise trial and a control trial. The exercise trial entailed riding either a recumbent or upright bike at 75% of their age predicted max heart rate for 30 minutes. The control trial consisted of reading. A Stroop Test was given, and blood samples were obtained before, after, and 30 minutes after exercise and control. Serum was analyzed for BDNF, testosterone, and estrogen using commercially available ELISA kits. Results: Results showed that there was a significant effect of time in Stroop testing across all subjects. There was a trend (p = 0.068) for a decrease in Stroop time from pre to immediate post timepoints, and a significant decrease (p = 0.004) in Stroop time from pre to post-30 timepoints. There was a significant main effect of exercise on BDNF levels, (p = 0.05) and females were found to have significantly higher BDNF than males (p = 0.055). Conclusion: There was statistical evidence that acute exercise affects BDNF production in both genders, but not cognitive processing speed among an older active population. Cognitive processing speed continued to improve across all timepoints. As well, women were found to have overall higher BDNF.