Are Early Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviors Related to Working Memory at 7 and 14 Years of Age?

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Abstract

Objective

To evaluate the role of extracurricular physical activity and sedentary behavior at preschool and primary school age on working memory at primary school age and adolescence, respectively.

Study design

This prospective study was based on a birth cohort across 4 Spanish regions. In the 3 younger subcohorts (n = 1093), parents reported lifestyle habits of child at age 4 years of age on a questionnaire, and children performed a computerized working memory task at 7 years of age. In the older subcohort (n = 307), the questionnaire was completed at 6 years of age and working memory was tested at 14 years of age. Adjusted regression models were developed to investigate the associations between lifestyle habits and working memory.

Results

Low extracurricular physical activity levels at 4 years of age were associated with a nonsignificant 0.95% (95% CI −2.81 to 0.92) reduction of correct responses in the working memory task at age 7 years of age. Low extracurricular physical activity levels at 6 years of age were associated with a 4.22% (95% CI −8.05 to −0.39) reduction of correct responses at age 14 years. Television watching was not associated with working memory. Other sedentary behaviors at 6 year of age were associated with a 5.07% (95% CI −9.68 to −0.46) reduction of correct responses in boys at 14 years of age.

Conclusion

Low extracurricular physical activity levels at preschool and primary school ages were associated with poorer working memory performance at primary school age and adolescence, respectively. High sedentary behavior levels at primary school age were related negatively to working memory in adolescent boys.

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