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Sports, executive functions and academic performance: a comparison between martial arts, team sports, and sedentary children

  • Autori: Giordano G.; Gomez-Lopez M.; Alesi M.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2021
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista
  • Parole Chiave: Academic performance; Executive functions; Sport; Adolescent; Schools
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It is well known that curricular physical activity benefits children’s executive functions and academic performance. Therefore, this study aimed to determine whether there is an influence of extracurricular sports on executive functions and academic performance. However, it is less known which specific types of the sport better enhance executive functions in children; to investigate this issue, this study compared the performance on executive functions tasks and academic performance in one hundred and two boys and girls with an average age of 11.84 years recruited from Italian schools and gyms (N = 102), who participated in martial arts or team sports or were sedentary children. Executive functions were measured with the tests: Attenzione e Concentrazione, Digit Span test, Tower of London, IOWA Gambling task BVN 5-11, and BVN 12-18. Results demonstrated that children practicing martial arts showed better executive functioning and higher school marks than those involved in team sports or not involved in any sports. Furthermore, participants aged 12 to 15 years old outperformed in cool and hot executive functions tasks and had a better academic perfor-mance. Thus, the present findings supported the view that regular practice of extracurricular sports enhances executive functions development and consequently influences academic performance.