Acute Physical Activity Enhances Executive Functions in Children with ADHD

Valentin Benzing, Yu Kai Chang, Mirko Schmidt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


Acute physical activity of moderate to vigorous intensity has been shown to improve cognitive functions in children. However, the empirical evidence associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children is still limited, in particular regarding which specific cognitive functions benefit. This study investigated the effects of an acute bout of physical activity on multiple aspects of executive functions (inhibition, switching, and visual working memory) in children with ADHD. Forty-six children (8–12 years old; 82.6% boys) were randomly assigned to either 15 minutes of acute exergaming (physical activity of moderate intensity) or to a control condition (sedentary). Executive function performance in inhibition, switching and visual working memory were assessed before and after each condition, using a modified version of both the Flanker and the Color Span Backwards Task. The results revealed that participants in the exergaming group performed significantly faster than those in the control group in terms of both inhibition and switching, but there was no significant difference in the accuracy of the two tasks nor in visual working memory performance. These findings suggest that acute physical activity utilizing exergaming has the potential to improve specific aspects of executive functions (reaction times in inhibition and switching) in children with ADHD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12382
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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