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Physical Activity and Cognitive Functioning of Children: A Systematic Review

Neuropsychological Diagnostic and Therapy Centre, Chmielna, 80-748 Gdansk, Poland
Institute of Psychology, University of Gdansk, Bażyńskiego 4, 80-309 Gdansk, Poland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(4), 800;
Received: 19 February 2018 / Revised: 10 April 2018 / Accepted: 10 April 2018 / Published: 19 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effect of Sport Activity on Health Promotion)
Childhood is an important and sensitive period for cognitive development. There is limited published research regarding the relationship between sports and cognitive functions in children. We present studies that demonstrate the influence of physical activity on health, especially a positive correlation between sports and cognitive functions. The keywords “children, cognition, cognitive function, physical activity, and brain” were searched for using PsycInfo, Medline, and Google Scholar, with publication dates ranging from January 2000 to November 2017. Of the 617 results, 58 articles strictly connected to the main topics of physical activity and cognitive functioning were then reviewed. The areas of attention, thinking, language, learning, and memory were analyzed relative to sports and childhood. Results suggest that engaging in sports in late childhood positively influences cognitive and emotional functions. There is a paucity of publications that investigate the impact of sports on pre-adolescents’ cognitive functions, or explore which cognitive functions are developed by which sporting disciplines. Such knowledge would be useful in developing training programs for pre-adolescents, aimed at improving cognitive functions that may guide both researchers and practitioners relative to the wide range of benefits that result from physical activity. View Full-Text
Keywords: cognition; sport; brain; health; childhood cognition; sport; brain; health; childhood
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Bidzan-Bluma, I.; Lipowska, M. Physical Activity and Cognitive Functioning of Children: A Systematic Review. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 800.

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