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Pediatr Exerc Sci. 2018 Aug 1;30(3):326-334. doi: 10.1123/pes.2017-0183. Epub 2018 Feb 27.

Acute Effect of Intermittent Exercise and Action-Based Video Game Breaks on Math Performance in Preadolescent Children.

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1 University of Michigan.



The purpose of this study was to compare the acute effects of video game breaks and intermittent exercise breaks, performed at varying intensities, on math performance in preadolescent children.


A total of 39 children (18 males and 21 females; aged 7-11 y) completed 4 experimental conditions in random order: 8 hours of sitting interrupted with 20 two-minute low-, moderate-, or high-intensity exercise breaks or 20 two-minute sedentary computer game breaks. The intensity of exercise breaks for the low-, moderate-, and high-intensity conditions corresponded with 25%, 50%, and 75% of heart rate reserve, respectively. Math performance was assessed 3 times throughout each condition day using a 90-second math test consisting of 40 single-digit addition and subtraction questions.


There were no significant differences in percent change in math scores (correct answers out of attempted) by condition [low: -1.3 (0.8), moderate: 0.1 (1.3), high: -1.8 (0.7), and computer: -2.5 (0.8); P > .05]. There were significant differences in percent change in math scores over the course of the condition days with lower math scores reported at end-of-day test compared with midday test [-2.4 (0.5) vs -0.4 (0.3); P = .01]. There were no significant condition × time, time × age, condition × age, or condition × time × age interactions (all Ps > .05).


Action-based video game and exercise breaks elicit the same level of math performance in children; however, time of day may impact this relationship. These findings may have important implications for instructional time in elementary classrooms.


cognition; computer game; intermittent activity


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