Six-Minute Walking Test Performance Relates to Neurocognitive Abilities in Preschoolers

Shelby A. Keye, Anne M. Walk, Corinne N. Cannavale, Samantha Iwinski, Gabriella M. McLoughlin, Linda G. Steinberg, Naiman A. Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigated the relationship between six-minute walking test (6MWT) distance walked and preschool-aged children’s academic abilities, and behavioral and event-related potentials (ERP) indices of cognitive control. There were 59 children (25 females; age: 5.0 ± 0.6 years) who completed a 6MWT (mean distance: 449.6 ± 82.0 m) to estimate cardiorespiratory fitness. The Woodcock Johnson Early Cognitive and Academic Development Test evaluated academic abilities. A modified Eriksen flanker, hearts and flowers task, and auditory oddball task eliciting ERPs (N2, P3) assessed cognitive control. After adjusting for adiposity, diet, and demographics, linear regressions resulted in positive relationships between 6MWT distance and General Intellectual Ability (β = 0.25, Adj R2 = 0.04, p = 0.04) and Expressive Language (β = 0.30, Adj R2 = 0.13, p = 0.02). 6MWT distance was positively correlated with congruent accuracy (β = 0.29, Adj R2 = 0.18, p < 0.01) and negatively with incongruent reaction time (β = −0.26, Adj R2 = 0.05, p = 0.04) during the flanker task, and positively with homogeneous (β = 0.23, Adj R2 = 0.21, p = 0.04) and heterogeneous (β = 0.26, Adj R2 = 0.40, p = 0.02) accuracy on the hearts and flowers task. Higher fit children showed faster N2 latencies and greater P3 amplitudes to target stimuli; however, these were at the trend level following the adjustment of covariates. These findings indicate that the positive influence of cardiorespiratory fitness on cognitive function is evident in 4–6-year-olds.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number584
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 4 2021


  • Academic achievement
  • Cardiorespiratory fitness
  • Children
  • Event-related potentials
  • Executive function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Six-Minute Walking Test Performance Relates to Neurocognitive Abilities in Preschoolers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this