The acute effects of a 25-min afternoon physical activity class on attentional performance in Chinese elementary school children

Zhanjia Zhang *, Zhonghui He **, Mengyi Wei *, Donnia Thomas *, Brooke Callaghan * and Weiyun Chen *

(*) School of Kinesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI, USA
(**) Department of Physical Education, Peking University, Beijing, China

Physical activity (PA) has been demonstrated to have beneficial effects on children’s attention and academic performance. This study examined the acute effects of a 25-min afternoon PA class on attentional performance in Chinese elementary school children. One hundred and five children were randomly assigned into experimental group or control group. The experimental group took a 25- minute PA class in the afternoon, while the control group was given a lecture on exercise-related topics during the same time. Both groups were tested attentional performance before and immediately after the PA class or lecture using the d2-Test of Attention. The results showed children’s attentional performance improved significantly following a 25-minute afternoon PA class, but such improvement was no greater than following a lecture on a fresh topic, and did not differ between genders. Schools might consider implementing afternoon PA classes as a means of promoting children’s health while without compromising attentional performance.

Keywords: Acute Physical Activity, Attention, and Concentration