Hogeschool van Amsterdam

Urban Vitality

A short physical activity break from cognitive tasks increases selective attention in primary school children aged 10-11

Article

Importance<p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 16px; padding: 0px;">Evidence for an acute effect of physical activity on cognitive performance within the school setting is limited. The purpose of this study was to gain insight into acute effects of a short physical activity bout on selective attention in primary school children, specifically in the school setting.</p>Methods<p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 16px; padding: 0px;">Hundred and twenty three 10–11 years old children, 49.6% girls, engaged in four experimental breaks in random order: 1 h of regular cognitive school tasks followed by a 15 min episode with the following conditions 1) ‘no break’ (continuing a cognitive task), 2) passive break (listening to a story), 3) moderate intensity physical activity break (jogging, passing, dribbling) and 4) vigorous intensity physical activity break (running, jumping, skipping). Selective attention in the classroom was assessed by the TEA-Ch test before and after the 15 min break in each condition.</p>Results<p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 16px; padding: 0px;">After the passive break, the moderate intensity physical activity break and the vigorous intensity physical activity break attention scores were significantly better (<em style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;">p</em> < 0.001) than after the ‘no break’ condition. Attention scores were best after the moderate intensity physical activity break (difference with no break = −0.59 s/target, 95% CI: −0.70; −0.49).</p>Conclusion<p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 16px; padding: 0px;">The results show a significant positive effect of both a passive break as well as a physical activity break on selective attention, with the largest effect of a moderate intensity physical activity break. This suggests that schools could implement a moderate intensity physical activity break during the school day to optimize attention levels and thereby improve school performance.</p>Trial registration<p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 16px; padding: 0px;">NTR2386.</p>

Reference Janssen, M., Chinapaw, M. J. M., Rauh, S. P., Toussaint, H. M., van Mechelen, W., & Verhagen, E. A. L. M. (2014). A short physical activity break from cognitive tasks increases selective attention in primary school children aged 10-11. Mental Health and Physical Activity, 7(3), 129-134. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mhpa.2014.07.001
Published by  Urban Vitality 1 September 2014

Publication date

Sep 2014

Author(s)

M.J.M. Chinapaw
S.P. Rauh
H.M. Toussaint
W. van Mechelen
E.A.L.M. Verhagen

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