Physical Activity Predicting College Students' Executive Functioning Dimensions

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Mayhew, Ashley Anne
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Middle Tennessee State University
There is a shortage of research that investigates how, and to what extent, chronic physical activity predicts executive functioning (EF) dimensions in non-clinical, young adult populations (Guiney & Machado, 2013; Verburgh, Scherder, Oosterlaan 2014). To address this, the current study analyzes how young adults’ physical activity predicts two core EF dimensions, namely inhibition (i.e. behavioral regulation) and working memory (i.e. metacognition) skills. Participants (N = 99) were administered the Personal Wellness Profile (PWP; Wellsource Inc., 1998), a self-report behavioral rating form that assesses the amount of chronic physical activity an individual partakes in on a regular basis. Additionally, EF was assessed using the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function-Adult Version (BRIEF-A; Roth, Isquith, & Gioia, 2005), which assesses EF behavior regulation and metacognitive skills. Results indicated that college students’ self-reported levels of chronic physical activity successfully predicted global EF skills. Moreover, physical activity significantly predicted EF metacognitive skills though did not predict to EF behavior regulation. This suggests that physical activity impacts the ability to systematically organize and initiate planned actions more so than inhibitory or behavioral regulation skills.
Cognition, Executive Functioning, Exercise, Health, Physical Activity