2021 Volume 26 Issue 2 Pages 103-110
Executive function is important for maintaining a high quality of life. Exercise is effective for enhancing executive functions, and many children can participate in exercise activities at school sports club events. However, it is still unclear how participation in sports club activities exerts a positive effect on the executive functions of children. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate and compare the executive function of elementary school children participating in sports club activities and non-sports club activities.
This study included 124 fourth grade students (57 boys and 67 girls) at the targeted elementary school. These children selected club activities independently among the following options: physical play, football, basketball, brass band, computer activities, or none. The Stroop Test, Design Fluency Test, and Trail Making Test (TMT) were used to assess their executive functions. We compared children’s executive functions before and 6 weeks after initiation of the club activities between children who participated in sports activities and those who participated in non-sports club activities using two-way analysis of covariance adjusted for sex.
Although both the groups showed significant improvement in most tests after 6 weeks, there were no significant “group×time” interactions in any variable. However we confirmed the group effects in the time to complete TMT-A and TMT-B,for those who participated in sports club activities had a better score than those who participated in non-sports club activities (p=0.028, p=0.025).
Participation in sports club activities for 6 weeks could improve executive functions; however, the impact was not different from that achieved after participation in non-sports club activities. Conversely, because the time to complete TMT-A and TMT-B before and after participation was better in children who participated in sports club activities, this suggests that their daily exercise efforts may improve their executive function.