The Effects of School-based Physical Exercise With Different Cognitive Loads on Executive Functions

Document Type : Research Paper


Department of Motor Behavior, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, Allameh Tabataba’i University, Tehran, Iran.


Introduction: The present study aimed to compare the effects of 3 school-based physical exercises with different levels of cognitive engagement on executive functions. 
Materials and Methods: In total, 47 students aged 13-14 years were randomly divided into 3 groups, as follows: the Integrated Physical and Cognitive (IPC) exercise, peer physical exercise group (with the same physical challenge), and control group (the routine physical education program). A Continuous Performance Test (CPT), the N-back test, and the Stroop test were used to evaluate executive functions in pretest and posttest. 
Results: The obtained results indicated that the IPC group significantly improved more than the other groups on the executive functions. Accordingly, physical exercise with a higher cognitive load benefitted both speed and accuracy on cognitive tasks significantly more than the same physical activity alone. 
Conclusion: Therefore, in the integrated physical and cognitive exercise, the cognitive and physiological effects of this training style interact with each other; therefore, their beneficial effects can be gradually increased, while interventions that only focus on the physical dimension would be less effective in promoting cognitive functions.


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