The Relationship Between Executive Functions and Physical Activity in University Students
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Obesity is a major health concern in the United States. Regular participation in physical activity is associated with lower rates of obesity and co-morbid health concerns. While a number of studies have demonstrated a link between participation in physical activity and executive functions (e.g., working memory, inhibition, problem-solving, initiation skills), the majority of these studies have used performance-based measures of executive functioning. Performance-based measures are highly structured and may not capture an individual’s capacity to use these skills in daily functioning. The purpose of the present study was to assess the association between a behavioral rating scale of inhibition and initiation and physical activity in a sample of university students. It was hypothesized that better initiation skills would be associated with higher rates of physical activity. The multiple linear regression analysis revealed that initiation was a significant predictor of physical activity behaviors. These results demonstrate the importance of analyzing individual executive functions for their unique role in predicting physical activity behaviors.