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ORIGINAL ARTICLE  EPIDEMIOLOGY AND CLINICAL MEDICINE 

The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2019 August;59(8):1397-404

DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.18.08971-5

Copyright © 2018 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

lingua: Inglese

Relationship between aerobic fitness and academic performance: the mediational role of executive function

Silje E. KVALØ 1 , Sindre M. DYRSTAD 1, 2, Edvin BRU 3, Kolbjørn BRØNNICK 2, 4

1 Department of Education and Sport Science, University of Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway; 2 Department of Public Health, University of Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway; 3 Center of Learning Environment, University of Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway; 4 Center for Age-Related Medicine (SESAM), Stavanger University Hospital, Stavanger, Norway



BACKGROUND: This cross-sectional study investigated whether the relationship between aerobic fitness and academic performance was mediated by executive functioning.
METHODS: A total of 378 children (9-10 years old) from nine primary schools in Stavanger, Norway were included. The children’s aerobic fitness was measured by a 10-minute interval-running test; executive function was tested by four cognitive tests (Stroop, Trail Making, Verbal Fluency and Backwards Digit Span). A composite score for executive functions was computed and used in analyses. Academic achievement in reading, mathematics and English was determined using Norwegian national standardized tests.
RESULTS: Bivariate correlation analysis showed the following significant associations: mathematic achievement with executive functions (r=0.48, P=0.001), aerobic fitness with mathematics (r=0.13, P=0.012) and executive functions (r=0.17, P=0.001). A regression-based mediation analysis (PROCESS) with executive function as a mediator variable was conducted. Mediation analysis showed that the relationship between aerobic fitness and mathematic achievement was mediated by executive functions (P<0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Findings revealed an indirect effect of executive function on the positive relationship between aerobic fitness and mathematic achievement.


KEY WORDS: Cognition; Child; Exercise

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