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Frontiers in Sport Research, 2022, 4(6); doi: 10.25236/FSR.2022.040609.

Effects of Characteristics of Physical Activity on Children’S Cognition and Academic Performance Based on the Meta-Analysis


Xiaoqi Bo1, Quan Fu2

Corresponding Author:
Xiaoqi Bo

1Beijing Normal University, Beijing, 100091, China

2Capital University of Physical Education and Sports, Beijing, 100091, China


This meta-analysis was conducted to evaluate the effect of various forms of physical activity on children’s cognition and academic performance, detect the characteristics of physical activity that promote the development of the cognitive function, and identify which cognitive dimension benefits the most from characteristic physical activity. We also aimed to distinguish the characteristics of physical activity that promoted non-executive cognitive functions, core executive functions, and metacognition, respectively. Web of Science, PsycINFO, SPORTDiscus, ERIC databases were searched for relevant literature published between 2000 and 2020. The random-effects model was used to calculate the combined effect size (ES) and the corresponding 95% confidence interval (95%CI), and subgroup analysis was performed. I2 statistics were used to evaluate the heterogeneity of each study, with small, medium, and large heterogeneity being represented by < 25%, 25%-50%, and > 50%, respectively. The results showed that acute physical activity had small-to-medium and above-medium positive effects on inhibiting executive function and cognitive flexibility, respectively. However, chronic physical activity had small-to-medium and above-medium positive effects on the working memory of executive function and non-executive cognitive function, respectively. Physical activity with high cognitive effort obviously benefited core executive function, while the non-executive cognitive function was more advanced by aerobic exercise. In addition, an aerobic exercise designed to increase physical strength promoted working memory, while inhibition benefited from cognitively physical activity requiring high cognitive effort (or cognitive engagement). For children aged 6 to 12, regular physical activity exercises that continued for several weeks were more likely to improve multiple cognitive areas, especially the core executive function and non-executive cognitive function, compared to acute exercise intervention, and these effects were affected by the characteristics of physical activity. Third, several weeks of physical activity that required cognitive effort or was cognitively challenging appeared to be more effective in improving cognitive performance than aerobic exercise.


Physical activity; cognition; academic performance; children; meta-analysis

Cite This Paper

Xiaoqi Bo, Quan Fu. Effects of Characteristics of Physical Activity on Children’S Cognition and Academic Performance Based on the Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in Sport Research (2022) Vol. 4, Issue 6: 46-55. https://doi.org/10.25236/FSR.2022.040609.


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