- The Journal of Physical Fitness and Sports Medicine (ISSN:21868131)
- vol.5, no.1, pp.57-67, 2016-03-25 (Released:2016-03-18)
An increasing number of studies have examined the effects of acute aerobic exercise on executive function (i.e., higher-order cognitive abilities involved in goal-directed behaviors) in healthy children. More recently, studies have begun to extend these empirical findings to children with neurodevelopmental disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Here, we review what is known about the effects of acute exercise on executive function in children with and without neurodevelopmental disorders. Overall, moderate acute aerobic exercise can transiently improve executive function in children with and without neurodevelopmental disorders. Further, these effects of acute exercise may differ depending on type of exercise, participant characteristics (e.g., fitness levels, executive function capacity, type of neurodevelopmental disorder), and timing of cognitive task administration (i.e., after versus during exercise). Despite the increasing number of findings, it is still premature to suggest effective exercise types and/or intensity levels to produce improvements in executive function in children. Further studies are needed to address this issue. Finally, future research directions are discussed in more detail.