MBO in beweging
: Het Effect van Matig Intensieve Lichaamsbeweging op Executieve Prestaties

Translated title of the thesis: VET in motion: The Effect of Moderate Intensive Physical Activity on Executive Performance
  • P.J. Luteijn

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Previous research has shown that physical activities are beneficial for learning achievement. The underlying causes are neurological processes that take place during and after physical exercises. These affect the executive functions. Executive functions (also known as executive control or cognitive control) refer to a number of mental processes that are required for concentration, focus, and attention. There is a strong positive relationship between executive functions and academic performance. However, it is not yet clear from what extent and intensity of physical activity executive functions are positively being influenced. It seems that 10 minutes of brisk walking has a short-term positive effect on the executive performance of vocational school students, but the results are not unequivocal. That is why it is of interest to investigate if short-term moderate intensive physical exercises have a positive effect on this. The aim of this study is to examine if there is a significant difference in executive performance of students who have walked 10 or 5 minutes in relation to students who have not walked. If this can be demonstrated, this can result in a useful and realistic movement intervention that can be entered within the school schedule.
The experimental research took place in seven classes among 119 students of different school years and levels of the vocational school study programs Tourism, Youth Care and Teaching Assistant. The students were randomly divided into three groups where the first group walked for 10 minutes together with their own teacher, the second group walked with the researcher for 5 minutes and one group stayed behind in the room with an assistant who showed a non-exiting video. Various cognitive tests were administered before and after the intervention to assess the executive performance of the students. The difference scores between the pre- and post-tests of the different cognitive tests were compared per group. To test the inhibition, use was made of the D2 test. The Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT) was used for cognitive flexibility. For update and working memory the Digit span forward and the Digit span backward, part of the Wechsler Intelligence Scales IV, were used.
The groups that had walked 10 or 5 minutes did not perform significantly better than the group that had not walked, nor was there a difference between the groups that had walked. It can be concluded that the physical activities carried out in this study are insufficient to measurably influence the executive performance of vocational school students. Future research should focus on which duration and intensity of physical exercises are minimally necessary to have a significant effect on their executive performance and thus on their learning outcomes.
Date of Award6 Mar 2018
Original languageDutch
Awarding Institution
  • Open Universiteit: faculties and services
SupervisorJérôme Gijselaers (Supervisor)


  • cognitieve testen
  • executieve functies
  • matig intensieve lichaamsbeweging
  • mbo studenten

Master's Degree

  • Master Onderwijswetenschappen

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