A School-Based Physical Activity Intervention for Young Children: Are There Effects on Attention and Behavior?

Alicia Fedewa, Molly Rose Mayo, Soyeon Ahn, Heather Erwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


There is a growing body of evidence to support the benefits of physical activity on children’s cognitions and behavior. Although children with ADHD are known to be at risk for deficits in cognitive processing, specifically executive functioning which controls the organization, regulation, and planning of behavior, little evidence exists about the effect of vigorous physical activity on executive functioning and the accompanying behavioral and inattention symptoms of ADHD. Given the overwhelming research supporting the need for early intervention in this population and the dearth of research examining the effects of physical activity in children, the present study investigated the effects of a 16 week physical activity intervention in an elementary sample of typical-developing children as well as those at-risk for ADHD. The findings indicated no significant relationship between the physical activity intervention and beneficial outcomes for student executive functioning or ADHD symptomology, although a moderator effect was found for low and high intensity on student executive functioning suggesting that low and high intensity physical activity may improve student executive functioning. Implications for school personnel are provided given the study findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-414
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Applied School Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • ADHD
  • behavioral intervention
  • elementary school
  • executive functioning
  • physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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