The Differential Impact of Acute Exercise and Mindfulness Meditation on Executive Functioning and Psycho-Emotional Well-Being in Children and Youth With ADHD

Author: Hannah Bigelow1, Marcus D Gottlieb1, Michelle Ogrodnik2, Jeffrey D Graham3, Barbara Fenesi1
1 Faculty of Education, Western University, London, ON, Canada.
2 Department of Kinesiology, Faculty of Science, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.
3 Faculty of Health Sciences, Ontario Tech University, Oshawa, ON, Canada.
Conference/Journal: Front Psychol
Date published: 2021 Jun 14
Other: Volume ID: 12 , Pages: 660845 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.660845. , Word Count: 140

This study investigated how acute exercise and mindfulness meditation impacts executive functioning and psycho-emotional well-being in 16 children and youth with ADHD aged 10-14 (male = 11; White = 80%). Participants completed three interventions: 10 min of exercise, 10 min of mindfulness meditation, and 10 min of reading (control). Before and after each intervention, executive functioning (inhibitory control, working memory, task-switching) and psycho-emotional well-being (mood, self-efficacy) were assessed. Mindfulness meditation increased performance on all executive functioning tasks whereas the other interventions did not (d = 0.55-0.86). Exercise enhanced positive mood and self-efficacy whereas the other interventions did not (d = 0.22-0.35). This work provides preliminary evidence for how acute exercise and mindfulness meditation can support differential aspects of executive and psycho-emotional functioning among children and youth with ADHD.

Keywords: acute exercise; attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder; executive functioning; inhibition; mindfulness meditation; psycho-emotional well-being; task switching; working memory.

PMID: 34194365 PMCID: PMC8236645 DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.660845