Psychological Research

, Volume 79, Issue 5, pp 715–728 | Cite as

The relationship of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity to cognitive processing in adolescents: findings from the ALSPAC birth cohort

  • Dominika M. Pindus
  • Robert D. Moore Davis
  • Charles H. Hillman
  • Stephan Bandelow
  • Eef Hogervorst
  • Stuart J. H. Biddle
  • Lauren B. Sherar
Original Article


The aim of this study was to assess the relations of daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) to cognitive functions in 15-year-old adolescents from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children while controlling for aerobic fitness. A sub-sample of 667 adolescents (Mage = 15.4 ± 0.16 years; 55 % females) who provided valid data on variables of interest, were used in the analyses. MVPA was objectively assessed using an Actigraph GT1M accelerometer and aerobic fitness was expressed as physical work capacity at the heart rate of 170 beats per minute from a cycle ergometer test. A computerized stop-signal task was used to measure mean reaction time (RT) and standard deviation of RT, as indicators of cognitive processing speed and variability during an attention and inhibitory control task. MVPA was not significantly related to cognitive processing speed or variability of cognitive performance in hierarchical linear regression models. In simple regression models, aerobic fitness was negatively related to mean RT on the simple go condition. Our results suggest that aerobic fitness, but not MVPA, was associated with cognitive processing speed under less cognitively demanding task conditions. The results thus indicate a potential global effect of aerobic fitness on cognitive functions in adolescents but this may differ depending on the specific task characteristics.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dominika M. Pindus
    • 1
    • 2
  • Robert D. Moore Davis
    • 2
  • Charles H. Hillman
    • 2
  • Stephan Bandelow
    • 1
  • Eef Hogervorst
    • 1
  • Stuart J. H. Biddle
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Lauren B. Sherar
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Sport, Exercise and Health SciencesLoughborough UniversityLoughborough,UK
  2. 2.Department of Kinesiology and Community HealthUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA
  3. 3.The NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research UnitLeicesterUK
  4. 4.Institute of Sport, Exercise & Active Living (ISEAL)Victoria UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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