Associations between Physical Activity, Motor Skills, Executive Functions and Early Numeracy in Preschoolers

Anssi Vanhala*, Eero Haapala, Arja Sääkslahti, Airi Hakkarainen, Anna Widlund, Pirjo Aunio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

We investigated direct and indirect cross-sectional associations of physical activity, fundamental motor skills, executive functions, and early numeracy in preschoolers. The participants were 214 preschoolers aged three to five years. Time spent in moderate and vigorous physical activity was measured by hip-worn accelerometers and fundamental motor skills using the tasks assessing locomotor, object control, and stability skills. Inhibition/switching and working memory/updating, as components of executive functions, were assessed by computerised tests and a standardised test was used to assess early numeracy. Path analyses were used to examine direct and indirect associations between the constructs. Our results showed that stability skills were indirectly positively associated with early numeracy through inhibition/switching (β = 0.07, p < 0.05, 95% CI [0.02, 0.14]) and locomotor skills through working memory/updating (β = 0.13, p = 0.001, 95% CI [0.06, 0.20]). Vigorous physical activity was positively associated with early numeracy through locomotor skills and working memory/updating (β = 0.04, p = 0.01, 95% CI [0.01, 0.07]) and negatively associated with early numeracy through inhibition/switching (β = −0.06, p < 0.05, 95% CI [−0.11, −0.02]). Highlights Locomotor skills are positively associated with early numeracy through working memory/updating. Stability skills are positively associated with early numeracy through inhibition/switching. Vigorous physical activity is indirectly associated with early numeracy: Positively through locomotor skills and working memory/updating and negatively through inhibition/switching.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Sport Science
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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