Alternatives of Physical Activity within School Times and Effects on Cognition. A Systematic Review and Educational Practical Guide

  1. Emilio J. Martínez-López
  2. Alberto Ruiz-Ariza
  3. Manuel de la Torre-Cruz
  4. Sara Suárez-Manzano
Psicología educativa

ISSN: 1135-755X

Year of publication: 2021

Volume: 27

Issue: 1

Pages: 37-50

Type: Article

More publications in: Psicología educativa


This review analyses educational intervention studies that have researched the effects of physical activity in school on schoolchildren’s cognition. Twenty-nine intervention studies carried out between January 2005 and the end of June 2019 were retrieved from five databases. Fourteen papers analysed the physically activity in academic lessons (PAAL) method, nine analysed the effects of active lesson breaks (ALB), two analysed active recess (AR) intervention, and three analysed combined physical activity (CPA) interventions consisting of two or more types of physical activity. Physical activity in school time has acute and chronic positive effects on cognition in children. In all the interventions (PAAL, ALB, AR, and CPA) short-term highintensity physical activity sessions improved cognitive performance. Medium- to long-term moderate vigorous physical activity sessions also produced improvements in cognitive performance. The implications of including CPA programmes in the school timetable are discussed and practical guidelines with recommendations are offered.

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