Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, indices of cognitive control, and academic achievement in preadolescents

Dominika M. Pindus, Eric S. Drollette, Mark R. Scudder, Naiman A. Khan, Lauren B. Raine, Lauren B. Sherar, Dale W. Esliger, Arthur F Kramer, Charles H Hillman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective To assess whether preadolescents' objectively measured moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) is associated with cognitive control and academic achievement, independent of aerobic fitness. Study design A sample of 74 children (Meanage = 8.64 years, SD =.58, 46% girls) were included in the analyses. Daily MVPA (min/d) was measured over 7 days using ActiGraph wGT3X+ accelerometer. Aerobic fitness was measured using a maximal graded exercise test and expressed as maximal oxygen uptake (mL∗kg-1∗min-1). Inhibitory control was measured with a modified Eriksen flanker task (reaction time and accuracy), and working memory with an Operation Span Task (accuracy scores). Academic achievement (in reading, mathematics, and spelling) was expressed as standardized scores on the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement. The relationships were assessed using hierarchical regression models adjusting for aerobic fitness and other covariates. Results No significant associations were found between MVPA and inhibition, working memory, or academic achievement. Aerobic fitness was positively associated with inhibitory control (P =.02) and spelling (P =.04) but not with other cognitive or academic variables (all P >.05). Conclusions Aerobic fitness, rather than daily MVPA, is positively associated with childhood ability to manage perceptual interference and spelling. Further research into the associations between objectively measured MVPA and cognitive and academic outcomes in children while controlling for important covariates is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-142
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Accelerometry
  • aerobic fitness
  • children
  • inhibitory control
  • standardized academic tests
  • working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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