Early childhood is a critical period for development of cognitive function, but research on the association between physical activity and cognitive function in preschool children is limited and inconclusive. This study aimed to examine the association between technology-assessed physical activity and cognitive function in preschool children. A cross-sectional analysis of baseline data from the Physical Activity and Cognitive Development Study was conducted in Shanghai, China. Physical activity was measured with accelerometers for 7 consecutive days, and cognitive functions were assessed using the Chinese version of Wechsler Young Children Scale of Intelligence (C-WYCSI). Linear regression analyses were used to assess the association between physical activity and cognitive function. A total of 260 preschool children (boys, 144; girls, 116; mean age: 57.2 ± 5.4 months) were included in analyses for this study. After adjusting for confounding factors, we found that Verbal Intelligence Quotient, Performance Intelligence Quotient, and Full Intelligence Quotient were significantly correlated with light physical activity, not moderate to vigorous physical activity, in boys. Standardized coefficients were 0.211, 0.218, and 0.242 (all p
< 0.05) in three different models, respectively. However, the correlation between physical activity and cognitive functions were not significant in girls (p
> 0.05). These findings suggest that cognitive function is apparently associated with light physical activity in boys. Further studies are required to clarify the sex-specific effect on physical activity and cognitive functions.
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