Acute Exercise Effects on Measures of Attention and Impulsivity in Children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Anthony D. Mahon, Raymond S. Dean, David E. McIntosh, Andrea D. Marjerrison, Andrew S. Cole, Megan E. Woodruff, Mary P. Lee


This study examined the effect of a single bout of exercise on measures of attention and impulsivity in children
with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Children with ADHD (n = 21, 11.3 ± 1.8 yrs) and children
without ADHD (n = 21, 11.6 ± 1.9 yrs) participated in the study. After performing an initial exercise test to
measure peak aerobic exercise capacity, the children reported to the laboratory for 2 additional trials. For
children with ADHD one trial was performed off medication and the other trial occurred on medication. During
each testing session the Connor’s Continuous Performance Test II (CCPT II) was performed immediately before
and after 20 minutes of intermittent exercise (30 sec exercise/30 sec rest) at 90% of peak aerobic work rate.
Errors of omission, errors of commission, and reaction time (t-scores) were assessed from the CCPT II. The data
were analyzed with a 3-way (group x trial x time) MANOVA. There was a significant increase in the error of
omission t-score over time (pre to post exercise). There were no significant findings for the error of commission
t-score. In the ADHD group the reaction time score was significantly higher than children without ADHD,
significantly decreased with medication, and significantly increased over time. No other interaction or main
effects were observed. Further research identifying the optimal exercise intensity and duration that can improve
behavior, neurocognitive function, and academic performance is warranted.

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Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology   ISSN 1927-0526 (Print)   ISSN 1927-0534 (Online)

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