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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00245

Executive function, behavioral self-regulation, and school related well-being did not mediate the effect of school-based physical activity on academic performance in numeracy in ten-year-old children. The Active Smarter Kids (ASK) study

 Katrine N. Aadland1*, Eivind Aadland1, John R. Andersen2,  Arne Lervåg1, 3, Vegard F. Moe1, Geir K. Resaland1 and  Yngvar Ommundsen4
  • 1Faculty of Education, Arts and Sports, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Norway
  • 2Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Norway
  • 3Department of Education, University of Oslo, Norway
  • 4Department of Coaching and Psychology, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Norway

Inconsistent findings exist for the effect of school-based physical activity interventions on academic performance. The Active Smarter Kids (ASK) study revealed a favorable intervention effect of school-based physical activity on academic performance in numeracy in a subsample of 10-year-old elementary schoolchildren performing poorer at baseline in numeracy. Aiming to explain this finding, we investigated the mediating effects of executive function, behavioral self-regulation, and school related well-being in the relation between the physical activity intervention and child’s performance in numeracy. An ANCOVA model with latent variable structural equation modeling was estimated using data from 360 children (the lower third in academic performance in numeracy at baseline). The model consisted of the three latent factors as mediators; executive function, behavioral self-regulation, and school related well-being. We found no mediating effects of executive function, behavioral self-regulation or school related well-being in the relationship between the ASK intervention and academic performance in numeracy (p ≥ .256). Our results suggest that the effect of the intervention on performance in numeracy in the present sample is not explained by change in executive function, behavioral self-regulation, or school related well-being. We suggest this finding mainly could be explained by the lack of effect of the intervention on the mediators, which might be due to an insufficient dose of physical activity.

Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov registry, trial registration number: NCT02132494.

Keywords: Executive Function, Behavioral self-regulation, school related well-being, elementary school children, structural equation modeling (SEM)

Received: 31 Oct 2017; Accepted: 14 Feb 2018.

Edited by:

Jesus De La Fuente, University of Almería, Spain

Reviewed by:

Sharinaz Hassan, Curtin University, Australia
Lina M. Cómbita Merchán, University of Granada, Spain  

Copyright: © 2018 Aadland, Aadland, Andersen, Lervåg, Moe, Resaland and Ommundsen. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mrs. Katrine N. Aadland, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Education, Arts and Sports, Postbox 7030, Bergen, Norway, katrine.nyvoll.aadland@hvl.no