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Physical Activity, Executive Function, and School Readiness in Young Children
- Presented on May 31, 2013
Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and executive function (EF), the ability to organize thoughts and make decisions, have been identified as contributors to cognitive ability and academic success in school-aged children. These associations have not been established in young children.
Purpose To determine the influence of MVPA and EF on school readiness in young children.
Methods Participants were 30 preschool and kindergarten children (5.2+1.3y). School readiness was evaluated using verbal (Bracken Basic Concept Scale Receptive; BBCS-R) and physical (Bracken Basic Concept Scale Expressive; BBCS-E) identification of concepts. EF was measured using the Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders (HTKS) task, which requires children to remember rules and respond to commands. MVPA was assessed using a waist-mounted accelerometer (ActiGraph GT3X) and cut points determined by Pate et al. (2006). Correlations were calculated to identify associations between MVPA, HTKS, BBCS-R, and BBCS-E. Stepwise linear regression was used to examine the contribution of MVPA and HTKS to school readiness (BBCS-R and BBCS-E).
Results There was a significant, positive correlation between HTKS and BBCS-E (r=0.40; p<0.05). MVPA was significantly related to both BBCS-R (r=0.422; p<0.05) and BBCS-E (r=0.429; p<0.05). Regression analysis showed that MVPA accounted for approximately18% of the variance in school readiness (BBCS-R r2=0.178; p<0.05 and BBCS-E r2=0.184; p<0.05). HTKS did not improve the regression model.
Conclusions Results revealed that both MVPA and HTKS were significantly associated with school readiness. The MVPA and academic success relationship has been documented in older children and appears to also be associated with greater school readiness in younger children. This work was supported by the University of Tennessee KLASS Center Pilot and Feasibility Grant.