Effect of Structured and Unstructured Physical Activity Training on Cognitive Functions in Adolescents – A Randomized Control Trial CC04-CC09
Dr. Vivek Kumar Sharma,
Professor, Department of Physiology, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research,
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Background: Regular physical activity in children and adolescents promotes not only their physical health but also improves their cognition. Paper and pencil Neurocognitive tests (NCT) are commonly used to assess the various cognitive domains of a person and can be used as simple tests to assess improvements, if any, in the cognitive abilities of growing adolescents who practice regular physical activity.
Aim: To study the effect of six months of structured and unstructured physical activity on cognitive functions in adolescents.
Materials and Methods: We recruited 439 healthy adolescent volunteers in the age group of 12 to 17 years (boys 250, girls 189) from a residential school (Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Pondicherry). The following paper and pencil neuropsychological cognitive tests were administered: Two Target Letter Cancellation test, Trail Making test A and B, Ruff Figural Fluency test (RFFT). These participants were then divided into Structured Physical Activity (SPA: n=219; boys 117, girls 102) and Unstructured Physical Activity (USPA: n=220; boys 119, girls 101) groups based on age and gender block randomization method. Six-month intervention was successfully completed by 347 participants only (SPA group: n= 136; boys 77, girls 59; USPA group: n = 139; boys 75, girls 64) and the tests were repeated. S tatistical Analysis: The data were recorded and statistically analysed by per-protocol analysis method, using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS), version 19.
Results: After six months of intervention, both SPA and USPA group participants showed significant improvements in all the tested neurocognitive parameters. On inter-group comparison, participants in SPA group showed significantly better improvements.
Conclusion: Physical activity training in adolescents is more beneficial when structured as per WHO guidelines, probably due to higher cognitive loading.