(HealthDay)—Acute physical exercise improves executive function in children, adolescents, and young adults, according to a meta-analysis published online March 6 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Lot Verburgh, from VU University Amsterdam, and colleagues conducted a literature review and meta-analysis of 19 studies to assess the effects of physical exercise on executive functions in children (age 6 to 12 years), adolescents (age 13 to 17 years), and young adults (age 18 to 35 years).
The researchers found that acute physical exercise had a significant overall effect on executive functions, with no significant differences between the age groups. There was no significant overall effect of chronic physical exercise on executive functions. In meta-analyses, acute physical exercise had a significant effect on the domain's inhibition/interference control (d, 0.46: P < 0.001), but the effect on working memory was not significant (d, 0.05; P = 0.86). The effects of chronic physical exercise on planning was not significant (d, 0.16; P = 0.18).
"The results suggest that acute physical exercise enhances executive functioning, which is highly relevant in preadolescent children and adolescents, given the importance of well-developed executive functions for academic achievement and daily life functioning," write the authors. "The results are highly relevant, given the current increase in obesity in children and adolescents and the increase in sedentary behavior in these age-groups."
Explore further: Short bouts of exercise boost self control
Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)