The effect of acute cognitively engaging physical activity breaks on children’s executive functions: Too much of a good thing?

Egger, Fabienne; Conzelmann, Achim; Schmidt, Mirko (2018). The effect of acute cognitively engaging physical activity breaks on children’s executive functions: Too much of a good thing? Psychology of sport and exercise, 36, pp. 178-186. Elsevier Science 10.1016/j.psychsport.2018.02.014

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Objectives: Acute bouts of physical activity may have an impact on children’s executive functions. However, the role played by cognitive engagement (CE) during physical activity remains unclear. Therefore, the aim of the study was to disentangle the separate and/or combined effects of physical exertion (PE) and cognitive engagement, induced by classroom-based physical activity, on children’s executive functions. Design: In a 2 x 2 between-subjects experimental design, 216 children (Mage = 7.94, SD = 0.44, 49.1% girls) were randomly assigned to one of four conditions consisting of a classroom-based physical activity intervention varying in both physical exertion (high PE vs. low PE) and cognitive engagement (high CE vs. low CE). Methods: Executive functions (updating, inhibition, shifting) were measured before and immediately after a 20-min intervention. To test whether a potential change in children’s executive functions was due to the main effect of PE or CE or an interaction of both, three separate ANCOVAs were conducted. Results: Contrary to the hypotheses, there was a significant, negative effect for the CE factor in shifting. No effects were found in either updating or inhibition. No significant effects were found for either the PE factor or the interaction of PE and CE in any of the executive functions. Conclusions: The results indicate that an acute bout of cognitive engagement in classroom-based physical activity may deteriorate children’s cognitive performance. These surprising results are discussed in the light of theories predicting both facilitating and deteriorating effects of cognitively engaging physical activity.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW)
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW) > Sport Science I

UniBE Contributor:

Egger, Fabienne; Conzelmann, Achim and Schmidt, Mirko

Subjects:

700 Arts > 790 Sports, games & entertainment

ISSN:

1469-0292

Publisher:

Elsevier Science

Funders:

[46] Bundesamt für Landestopografie, Wabern, CHE (swisstopo)

Language:

English

Submitter:

Fabienne Egger

Date Deposited:

15 Mar 2018 09:29

Last Modified:

06 May 2019 17:45

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.psychsport.2018.02.014

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.112833

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/112833

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