Connect 4

Background: Both acute and chronic forms of physical activity have been shown to positively impact cognition, particularly in young children (Verburgh et al. 2014). However, the type of activity to make the largest improvements in cognition has not been evaluated. Physical activities that are cognitively demanding and enjoyable have been suggested by many (e.g. Best 2010, Diamond & Ling, 2016) as activities likely to produce the largest gains in cognition when compared to more traditional forms of aerobic activity. The aim of this study is to determine whether a combined aerobically and cognitively engaging acute physical activity intervention is superior to either an aerobic or cognitive activity alone in improving executive function in 6-8-year-old children.


Methods: Children ages 6 to 8 years (n=48) were randomized in pairs to one of three 20-min conditions:

1) A sedentary-cognitive activity of playing a seated game of Connect 4, or

2) An aerobic activity of running to and from a pylon placed 45-ft in front of the participants, or

3) A dual cognitive-exercise activity playing an game of Connect 4 where children were asked to run forward 45-ft to a large Connect 4 board.

In 4-min intervals throughout the activity, participants were asked to rate their perceived mental and physical exertion using Borg’s CR0-10 scale (Borg, 1998) as well as their affect using the Feeling Scale (Hardy & Rejeski, 1989). Before and after the condition, children completed an executive function task to assess their inhibition.

 Results: Forty eight children have been randomized and have completed the study and data is currently being analysed.