The relationship between vigilance capacity and physical exercise: a mixed-effects multistudy analysis
StatisticsView Usage Statistics
MetadataShow full item record
A substantial body of work has depicted a positive association between physical exercise and cognition, although the key factors driving that link are still a matter of scientific debate. Here, we aimed to contribute further to that topic by pooling the data from seven studies (N = 361) conducted by our research group to examine whether cardiovascular fitness (VO2), sport type participation (externally-paced (e.g., football or basketball) and self-paced (e.g., triathlon or track and field athletes) vs. sedentary), or both, are crucial factors to explain the association between the regular practice of exercise and vigilance capacity. We controlled for relevant variables such as age and the method of VO2 estimation. The Psychomotor Vigilance Task was used to measure vigilance performance by means of reaction time (RT). The results showed that externally-paced sport practice (e.g., football) resulted in significantly shorter RT compared to self-paced sport (e.g., triathlon) and sedentary condition, depicting larger effects in children and adolescents than in adults. Further analyses revealed no significant effect of cardiovascular fitness and self-paced sport practice, in comparison to the sedentary condition, on RT. Our data point to the relevance of considering the type of sport practice over and above the level of cardiovascular fitness as crucial factor to explain the positive association between the regular practice of exercise and vigilance capacity.