The Daily Mile™: acute effects on children’s cognitive function and factors affecting their enjoyment

Hatch, L.M. ORCID: 0000-0002-0386-4926, Williams, R.A. ORCID: 0000-0002-1346-7756, Dring, K.J. ORCID: 0000-0002-9647-3579, Sunderland, C. ORCID: 0000-0001-7484-1345, Nevill, M.E. ORCID: 0000-0003-2498-9493, Sarkar, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-8338-8500, Morris, J.G. ORCID: 0000-0001-6508-7897 and Cooper, S.B. ORCID: 0000-0001-5219-5020, 2021. The Daily Mile™: acute effects on children’s cognitive function and factors affecting their enjoyment. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 57: 102047. ISSN 1469-0292

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The Daily Mile™ is a widely implemented school-based physical activity initiative. However, only two studies have explored the acute effects of participation in The Daily Mile on children’s cognitive functioning, reporting conflicting findings. Moreover, enjoyment of exercise is a determining factor in children’s motivation for, and adherence to, initiatives. However, factors affecting children’s enjoyment of The Daily Mile are unknown. Therefore, this study examined the acute effects of The Daily Mile on cognition and explored children’s enjoyment of participation in the initiative. Following familiarisation, 104 children (10.4 ± 0.7 years) completed a Daily Mile and resting control trial in a randomised, counterbalanced order. Prior to, immediately following and 45 min following The Daily Mile and resting, children completed the Stroop test (inhibitory control), Sternberg paradigm (visual working memory) and Flanker task (inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility). Additionally, 87 children took part in focus groups to explore factors affecting enjoyment. Cognitive data were analysed using two-way (trial*time) and three-way (trial*time*sex; trial*time*fitness) repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA). Focus group data were analysed using qualitative content analysis. There were no statistically significant effects of The Daily Mile on cognition, compared to rest (all p > 0.05). However, accuracy on the one-item level of Sternberg paradigm (p = 0.073, ηp2 = 0.028) and complex level of the Stroop test (p = 0.057; ηp2 = 0.031) tended to improve immediately following The Daily Mile, compared to resting; though this did not reach statistical significance. Children enjoyed participating in The Daily Mile, particularly due to its outdoor location, social context, and self-paced nature. However, some children found The Daily Mile boring due to its repetitive nature. Findings suggest that The Daily Mile does not significantly influence children’s immediate or delayed (45 min) cognition. However, there was a tendency for improved accuracy in visual working memory and inhibitory control immediately following The Daily Mile. Moreover, the findings demonstrate that The Daily Mile promotes enjoyment, particularly through social relatedness and autonomy. However, future research could consider whether adding variety into the initiative may help to sustain engagement in the children experiencing boredom.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Psychology of Sport and Exercise
Creators: Hatch, L.M., Williams, R.A., Dring, K.J., Sunderland, C., Nevill, M.E., Sarkar, M., Morris, J.G. and Cooper, S.B.
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Date: November 2021
Volume: 57
ISSN: 1469-0292
S1469029221001655Publisher Item Identifier
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 26 Aug 2021 07:55
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 03:00

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