Acute Physical Activity Enhances Executive Functions in Children with ADHD

Benzing, Valentin; Chang, Yu-Kai; Schmidt, Mirko (2018). Acute Physical Activity Enhances Executive Functions in Children with ADHD. Scientific Reports, 8(1) Nature Publishing Group 10.1038/s41598-018-30067-8

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Acute physical activity of moderate to vigorous intensity has been shown to improve cognitive functions in children. However, the empirical evidence associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children is still limited, in particular regarding which specific cognitive functions benefit. This study investigated the effects of an acute bout of physical activity on multiple aspects of executive functions (inhibition, switching, and visual working memory) in children with ADHD. Forty-six children (8–12 years old; 82.6% boys) were randomly assigned to either 15 minutes of acute exergaming (physical activity of moderate intensity) or to a control condition (sedentary). Executive function performance in inhibition, switching and visual working memory were assessed before and after each condition, using a modified version of both the Flanker and the Color Span Backwards Task. The results revealed that participants in the exergaming group performed significantly faster than those in the control group in terms of both inhibition and switching, but there was no significant difference in the accuracy of the two tasks nor in visual working memory performance. These findings suggest that acute physical activity utilizing exergaming has the potential to improve specific aspects of executive functions (reaction times in inhibition and switching) in children with ADHD.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW)
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW) > Sport Psychology and Research Methods

Graduate School:

Swiss Graduate School for Cognition, Learning and Memory (SGS-CLM)

UniBE Contributor:

Benzing, Valentin Johannes, Schmidt, Mirko


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
700 Arts > 790 Sports, games & entertainment




Nature Publishing Group


[UNSPECIFIED] Stiftung Suzanne und Hans Biäsch zur Förderung der Angewandten Psychologie ; [UNSPECIFIED] Hans & Annelies Swierstra Stiftung




Valentin Johannes Benzing

Date Deposited:

20 Nov 2018 15:22

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:19

Publisher DOI:





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