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Joseph Tkacz, Deborah Young-Hyman, Colleen A. Boyle, and Catherine L. Davis

This study tested the effect of a structured aerobic exercise program on anger expression in healthy overweight children. Overweight sedentary children were randomly assigned to an aerobic exercise program or a no-exercise control condition. All children completed the Pediatric Anger Expression Scale at baseline and posttest. Anger Out and Anger Expression scores were lower for the exercise condition at posttest. Fitness improvements contributed significantly to final models, and points earned for adherence correlated negatively with posttest Anger Out. An aerobic exercise program might be an effective strategy to reduce anger expression, including reduction of aggressive behavior, in overweight children.

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Catherine L. Davis, Joseph P. Tkacz, Phillip D. Tomporowski, and Eduardo E. Bustamante

Purpose:

This study tested whether participation in organized physical activity (active vs. inactive) or weight status (normal weight vs. overweight or obese) independently relate to children’s cognition, using a matched-pairs design.

Design and Methods:

Normal weight, active children (8–11 yrs, 5th-75th percentile BMI) were recruited from extracurricular physical activity programs while normal weight inactive (5th-75th percentile BMI) and overweight inactive children (BMI ≥85th percentile) were recruited from local Augusta, Georgia area schools. Measures included the Cognitive Assessment System, anthropometrics, and parent- and self-report of physical activity. Paired t tests compared cognition scores between matched groups of normal weight active vs. normal weight inactive (N = 24 pairs), normal weight inactive vs. overweight inactive (N = 21 pairs), and normal weight active vs. overweight inactive children (N = 16 pairs). Children in each comparison were matched for race, gender, age, and socioeconomic status.

Results:

Normal weight active children had higher Planning (M± SD = 109 ± 11 vs. 100 ± 11, p = .011) and Attention scores (108 ± 11 vs. 100 ± 11, p = .013) than overweight inactive children. Normal weight inactive children had higher Attention scores than overweight inactive children (105 ± 13 vs. 93 ± 12, p = .008). When compared with normal weight inactive children, normal weight active children had higher Planning (113 ± 10 vs. 102 ± 13, p = .008) and marginally higher Attention scores (111 ± 11 vs. 104 ± 12, p = .06).

Conclusion:

Findings suggest independent associations of children’s weight status with selective attention, and physical activity with higher-order processes of executive function.

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Philip D. Tomporowski, Catherine L. Davis, Kate Lambourne, Mathew Gregoski, and Joseph Tkacz

The short-term aftereffects of a bout of moderate aerobic exercise were hypothesized to facilitate children’s executive functioning as measured by a visual task-switching test. Sixty-nine children (mean age = 9.2 years) who were overweight and inactive performed a category-decision task before and immediately following a 23-min bout of treadmill walking and, on another session, before and following a nonexercise period. The acute bout of physical activity did not influence the children’s global switch cost scores or error rates. Age-related differences in global switch cost scores, but not error scores, were obtained. These results, in concert with several studies conducted with adults, fail to confirm that single bouts of moderately intense physical activity influence mental processes involved in task switching.

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Jared D. Ramer, María E. Santiago-Rodríguez, Catherine L. Davis, David X. Marquez, Stacy L. Frazier, and Eduardo E. Bustamante

Purpose: To examine effects of a 10-week after-school physical activity (PA) program on academic performance of 6- to 12-year-old African American children with behavior problems. Methods: Participants were randomized to PA (n = 19) or sedentary attention control (n = 16) programs. Academic records, curriculum-based measures, and classroom observations were obtained at baseline, postintervention, and/or follow-up. Mixed models tested group × time interactions on academic records and curriculum-based measures. One-way analysis of variance or Kruskal–Wallis tested for differences in postintervention classroom observations. Results: Intent-to-treat analyses demonstrated a moderate effect within groups from baseline to postintervention on disciplinary referrals (PA: d = −0.47; attention control: d = −0.36) and a null moderate effect on academic assessments (PA: d = 0.11 to 0.36; attention control: d = 0.05 to 0.40). No significant group × time interactions emerged on direct academic assessments (all Ps ≥ .05, d = −0.23 to 0.26) or academic records (all Ps ≥ .05, d = −0.28 to 0.16). Classroom observations revealed that intervention participants were off-task due to moving at twice the rate of comparative classmates (F = 15.74, P < .001) and were off-task due to talking 33% more often (F = 1.39, P = .257). Conclusion: Academic outcome improvements were small within and between groups and did not sustain at follow-up. Academic benefits of after-school PA programs for children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and/or disruptive behavior disorders were smaller than neurobiological, behavioral, and cognitive outcomes as previously reported.

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Chevelle M.A. Davis, Tetine L. Sentell, Juliana Fernandes de Souza Barbosa, Alban Ylli, Carmen-Lucia Curcio, and Catherine M. Pirkle

Physical activity (PA) among older adults is understudied in middle-income countries. The authors examined the associations of factors across levels of the social ecological model (individual, interpersonal, organizational, and community) with older adults meeting guidelines of 150 min of moderate- to vigorous-intensity PA per week through walking in three middle-income countries: Albania (n = 387), Colombia (n = 404), and Brazil (n = 402). Using 2012 International Mobility in Aging Study data, multivariate logistic regression models identified the following significant associations with meeting PA guidelines through walking (a) individual level: depression (odds ratio [OR] = 0.62, 95% confidence interval, CI [0.45, 0.86]), being female (OR = 0.74, 95% CI [0.56, 0.998]), and high relative education (OR = 1.79, 95% CI [1.33, 2.41]) and (b) interpersonal level: high life partner (OR = 1.38, 95% CI [1.04, 1.83]) and friend social ties (OR = 1.39, 95% CI [1.05, 1.83]). While individual and interpersonal variables were associated with meeting PA guidelines, community-level social and environmental variables were not.