Cognitively engaging chronic physical activity, but not aerobic exercise, affects executive functions in primary school children: A group-randomized controlled trial

Schmidt, Mirko; Jäger, Katja; Egger, Fabienne; Roebers, Claudia; Conzelmann, Achim (2015). Cognitively engaging chronic physical activity, but not aerobic exercise, affects executive functions in primary school children: A group-randomized controlled trial. Journal of sport & exercise psychology, 37(6), pp. 575-591. Human Kinetics Publishers 10.1123/jsep.2015-0069

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Although the positive effects of different kinds of physical activity (PA) on cognitive functioning have already been demonstrated in a variety of studies, the role of cognitive engagement in promoting children’s executive functions is still unclear. The aim of the present study was therefore to investigate the effects of two qualitatively different chronic PA interventions on executive functions in primary school children. 181 children aged between 10 and 12 years were assigned to either a 6-week physical education program with a high level of physical exertion and high cognitive engagement (team games), a physical education program with high physical exertion but low cognitive engagement (aerobic exercise), or to a physical education program with both low physical exertion and low cognitive engagement (control condition). Executive functions (updating, inhibition, shifting) and aerobic fitness (multistage 20-meter shuttle run test) were measured before and after the respective condition. Results revealed that both interventions (team games and aerobic exercise) have a positive impact on children’s aerobic fitness (4-5 % increase in estimated VO2max). Importantly, an improvement in shifting performance was found only in the team games and not in the aerobic exercise or control condition. Thus, the inclusion of cognitive engagement in PA seems to be the most promising type of chronic intervention to enhance executive functions in children, providing further evidence for the importance of the qualitative aspects of PA.

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

UniBE Contributor:

Schmidt, Mirko; Jäger, Katja; Egger, Fabienne; Roebers, Claudia and Conzelmann, Achim

Subjects:

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

ISSN:

0895-2779

Publisher:

Human Kinetics Publishers

Language:

English

Submitter:

Mirko Schmidt

Date Deposited:

11 Apr 2016 10:44

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2017 15:46

Publisher DOI:

10.1123/jsep.2015-0069

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.80411

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/80411

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