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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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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.