Effects of acute bouts of physical activity on children’s attention: a systematic review of the literature

Mirka Janssen, Huub M Toussaint, Willem van Mechelen, Evert ALM Verhagen

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The aim of this review was to describe the effects of acute bouts of physical activity on attention levels of children. A systematic review was performed of English studies from searches in PubMed, Sportdiscus and PsycINFO from 1990 to (May) 2014 according to the PRISMA statement. Only prospective studies of children aged 4-18 years old were included, detailing acute effects of physical activity bouts with the primary outcome attention.

One reviewer extracted data on the study characteristics. Two reviewers conducted the methodological quality assessment independently using a criteria checklist, which was based on the Downs and Black checklist for non-randomised studies.

Overall the evidence is thin and inconclusive. The methodological differences in study sample (size and age), study design and measurement of attention make it difficult to compare results.

There is weak evidence for the effect of acute bouts of physical activity on attention. More experimental studies with a comparable methodology, especially in the school setting, are needed to strengthen this evidence.
Original languageEnglish
Article number410
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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