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Acute Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Cognitive Flexibility in Children with ADHD

Acute Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Cognitive Flexibility in Children with ADHDAcute Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Cognitive Flexibility in Children with ADHD

Journal of Attention Disorders published research investigated the acute effects of aerobic exercise on cognitive flexibility in children with ADHD along with heart rate variability.  Using a cross-over design, 36 participants (18 children with ADHD and 18 neurotypical peers) completed cognitive assessments following exercise (20-min moderately intense cycling) and a physically inactive control condition. Behavioral performance was assessed using the Alternate Uses task and heart rate variability was recorded via electrocardiography during the cognitive task.  Cognitive flexibility is generally understood as the ability to adjust one’s behavior to changing task demands and allows a change of perspectives.

The results of the acute effects of aerobic exercise on cognitive flexibility in children with ADHD indicated the following:

  • both groups (ADHD and control group) showed higher cognitive flexibility following aerobic exercise.
  •  participants showed a parasympathetic withdrawal during the task in the exercise condition, which was indexed by increased Low Frequency/ High-Frequency quotient decreased.

The findings suggest that an increase in task-related arousal by the withdrawal of the parasympathetic modulation seems to be one of the mechanisms underlying exercise-induced benefits for this particular component of executive function.  Since executive functions in children are challenged in school, classes, tests, etc., a short aerobic exercise session can help children to reach an adaptive state that allows optimal behavioral response in a situation requiring cognitive flexibility.

Reference:  Ludyga, S., Gerber, M., Mücke, M., Brand, S., Weber, P., Brotzmann, M., & Pühse, U. (2018). The Acute Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Cognitive Flexibility and Task-Related Heart Rate Variability in Children With ADHD and Healthy Controls. Journal of attention disorders, 1087054718757647.

Movement Flashcards

Movement Flashcards – Movement Flashcards digital download includes 10 aerobic exercises with flashcards templates. Students can get physical activity while reviewing material. The 10 aerobic activities include: run in place, jumping, hopping, squats, lunges, skipping, twists, cross crawls, jumping jacks and marching. Each page includes a picture image of the aerobic exercise along with a blank template for you to type in 18 flash cards. You choose what to work on for academic material.

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Acute Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Cognitive Flexibility in Children with ADHD