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Changes in the timed finger-to-nose task performance following exercise of different intensities
  1. S John Sullivan1,
  2. Anthony G Schneiders1,
  3. Phil Handcock2,
  4. Andrew Gray3,
  5. Paul R McCrory4
  1. 1Centre for Physiotherapy Research, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  2. 2School of Physical Education, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  3. 3Department of Preventive & Social Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  4. 4Centre for Health, Exercise and Sports Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  1. Correspondence to S John Sullivan, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand; sjohn.sullivan{at}


Objective The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of different levels of exercise intensity on the timed finger-to-nose (FTN) task, a measure of upper limb coordination included in the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT2).

Methods A three-group crossover randomised design was used to investigate changes in FTN times at three levels of exercise intensity; no exercise/rest (NE), moderate intensity exercise (ME) and high-intensity exercise (HE). Heart rates and a rating of perceived exertion (Borg Scale) were recorded to verify the level of exercise intensity. Participants performed three trials of the timed FTN task: pre-exercise, post-exercise and 15 min after the cessation of exercise. Linear mixed models were used to compare FTN change scores associated with exercise.

Results Ninety asymptomatic participants (45♂:45♀) aged 18–32 years completed the study. Changes in FTN scores from pre-exercise showed that the HE condition was facilitated relative to NE at post-exercise (8% faster, 95% CI 5% to 10%, p<0.001) and at post-15 (3% faster, 95% CI 1% to 6%, p=0.005). ME did not show such a facilitation following exercise (2% faster, 95% CI 0% to 4%, p=0.081 and 1% faster, 95% CI 1% to 4%, p=0.225 respectively).

Conclusions Performance on the FTN task is enhanced by a short period of HE, and this effect persists for at least 15 min. There was no evidence of such an effect with ME.

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  • Funding University of Otago Research Grant.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the University of Otago Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.