The associations of objectively measured physical activity and sedentary time with cognitive functions in school-aged children
- Published on July 25, 2014
Abstract: Low levels of physical activity among children have raised concerns over the effects of a physically inactive lifestyle, not only on physical health but also on cognitive prerequisites of learning. This study examined how objectively measured and self-reported physical activity and sedentary behavior are associated with cognitive functions in school-aged children. The study population consisted of 224 children from five schools in the Jyväskylä school district in Finland (mean age 12.2 years; 56% girls), who participated in the study in the spring of 2011. Physical activity and sedentary time were measured objectively for seven consecutive days using the ActiGraph GT1M/GT3X accelerometer. Self-reported moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and screen time were evaluated with the questions used in the “WHO Health Behavior in School-aged Children” study. Cognitive functions including visual memory, executive functions and attention were evaluated with a computerized Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery by using five different tests. Structural equation modeling was applied to examine how objectively measured and self-reported MVPA and sedentary behavior were associated with cognitive functions. High levels of objectively measured MVPA were associated with good performance in the reaction time test. High levels of objectively measured sedentary time were associated with good performance in the sustained attention test. Objectively measured MVPA and sedentary time were not associated with other measures of cognitive functions. High amount of self-reported computer/video game play was associated with weaker performance in working memory test, whereas high amount of computer use was associated with weaker performance in test measuring shifting and flexibility of attention. Self-reported physical activity and total screen time were not associated with any measures of cognitive functions. The results of the present study propose that physical activity may benefit attentional processes. However, excessive video game play and computer use may have unfavorable influence on cognitive functions.