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Table 1 Descriptive characteristics of included studies

From: The impact of exercise interventions concerning executive functions of children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Study Name (Year, Country/ Region) Research Design Participant Characteristics Intervention Components Outcome Measures Main Findings
Participants (Age Range; Gender-M%; Diagnostic Methods) Age (Control) Sample Size (IG/CG) Exercise Sessions Setting Program (Control) Type Intensity Frequency Length (mins)
Kang et al.a (2011, Korea) [77] RCT 7–12; M-100%;
K-ARS-PT
8.4 ± 0.9
(8.6 ± 1.2)
28 (15/13) Chronic NR Sports Therapy (Education) CEE NR 90-min/session, twice/wk 6 wk. (1080) WM: Digit Symbol Test
• CF: TMT
WM+(p = 0.02)
• CF+(p = 0.04)
Chang et al.a (2012, Taiwan) [28] RCT 8–13; M-93%;
DSM-4
10.45 ± 0.95
(10.42 ± 0.87)
40 (20/20) Acute Clinical Running (Watching video) AE Moderate 30-min/session/ 1 session (30) IC: Stroop
• CF: WCST
IC+(p < 0.01)
• CF+(p < 0.05)
Verret et al.a (2012, Canada) [69] nRCT 7–12; M-90%;
DSM-4
9.1 ± 1.1 21 (10/11) Chronic School PA programs CEE MVPA (77% HRmax) 45-min/session, 3 times/wk 10 wk. (1350) IC: TEAC IC+(p = 0.05)
Gawrilow et al.a (2013, Germany) [75] RCT 8–13; M-100%;
ICD-10
10.47 ± 1.49 47 (23/24) Acute Clinical Trampoline (Coloring in pictures) AE Vigorous 5-min/session 1 session (5) IC: GNG IC+(p < 0.05)
Pontifex et al. (2013, USA) [67] Crossover 8–10; M-70%,
DSM-4
9.46 ± 0.4
(9.8 ± 0.1)
40(20/20TD) Acute Clinical Running (Reading) AE Moderate (65–75% HRmax) 20-min/session 1 session (20) IC: Flanker task IC+(d = 0.09)
Chang et al.a (2014, Taiwan) [72] nRCT 5–10; M-85%;
DSM-4
8.78 ± 8.33
(8.19 ± 7.65)
27 (14/13) Chronic Community Aquatic exercise AE Moderate 90-min/session, twice/wk 8 wk. (1440) IC: GNG IC+(p = 0.004)
Choi et al.a (2015, Korea) [73] RCT 13–18; M-100%; DSM-4 15.8 ± 1.7
(16.0 ± 1.2)
30 (13/17) Chronic NR Sports Therapy (Education) CEE Light (60% HRmax) 90-min/session, 3 times/wk 6 wk. (1620) • CF: WCST • CF+(p = 0.03)
Chuang et al. (2015, Taiwan) [74] RCO 8–12; M-84%;
Psychiatric physician
9.42 ± 1.38 19 Acute Clinical Running (Watching video) AE MVPA (60% HRR) 30-min/session 1 session (30) IC: GNG IC+(p = 0.0039)
• shorter RT in Go
• stimuli
Piepmeier et al. (2015, USA) [66] RCO 8–13; M-63%;
Single question
10.14 ± 1.96
(11.22 ± 2.43)
32 (14/18TD) Acute Clinical Cycling (Watching video) AE Moderate 30-min/session 1 session (30) IC: Stroop
• CF: TMT
WM: TOL
IC+(p = 0.004)
CF00(p > 0.05)
WM00(p > 0.05)
Ziereis & Jansena (2015, Germany) [71] RCT 7–12; M-74%;
ICD-10
IG1 9.2 ± 1.3
IG2 9.6 ± 1.6
(9.5 ± 1.4)
39 (IG112, IG211/16) Chronic Gym G1: aerobic & motor skills; IG2: aerobic AE & CEE NR 60-min/session/wk 12 wk. (720) WM: DSFBT; LNST WM+(p < 0.0
• measured by LNST
Bustamante et al.a (2016, USA) [70] RCT 6–12; M-69%:
DSM-4
9.4 ± 2.2
(8.7 ± 2.0)
34 (18/16) Chronic School Cooperative games & sports (art project) CEE Moderate (75% HRmax) 90-min/session, 5 times/wk 10 wk. (4500) IC: STOPIT
WM: AWMA
IC+(d = 0.67)
WM+(d = 0.29)
Hung et al. (2016, Taiwan) [76] Crossover 8–12; M-97%;
ADHD test
10.24 ± 1.78
(10.20 ± 1.09)
34 Acute Clinical Running (Watching video) AE MVPA (50–70% HRR) 30-min/session 1 session (30) • CF: Task Switching Paradigm • CF+(p < 0.05)
• shorter RT in global
• switch costs
Memarmoghaddam et al.a (2016, Iran) [64] RCT 7–11; NR
SNAP-4
8.31 ± 1.29
(8.29 ± 1.31)
36 (19/17) Chronic Gym AE & goal-directed exercise CEE MVPA (65–80% HRR) 90-min/session, 3 times/wk 8 wk. (2160) • CF: Stroop
IC: GNG
• CF+(p = 0.00)
IC+(p = 0.00)
Pan et al.a (2016, Taiwan) [34] RCT 6–12; M-100%;
DSM-4
8.93 ± 1.49
(8.87 ± 1.56)
32 (16/16) Chronic Gym Table tennis CEE NR 70-min/session, twice/wk 12 wk. (1680) IC: Stroop IC+(p < 0.01)
Lee et al.a (2017, Korea) [61] RCT 6–10; M-100%
DSM-4
8.83 ± 0.98
(8.83 ± 0.98)
12 (6/6) Chronic NR Jump rope & ball skills CEE MVPA (45–75% HRR) 60-min/session, 3 times/wk 12 wk. (2160) IC: Stroop IC+(p < 0.01)
Ludyga et al. (2017, Switzerland) [62] Crossover 11–16; M-62%;
DSM-4
12.8 ± 1.8
(13.5 ± 1.3)
34 (16/18TD) Acute Clinical Cycling & Coordinative exercise (Watching video) AE & CEE Moderate (65–70% HRmax) 20-min/session 1 session (15) IC: Flanker task IC+(p < 0.001)
• decrease of RT
• following exercise
Benzing et al.a (2018, Switzerland) [50] RCT 8–12; M-83%;
ICD-10
10.46 ± 1.35
(10.50 ± 1.41)
46 (24/22) Acute Home Exergaming (Watching video) CEE MVPA 15-min/session 1 session (30) WM: CSB
IC: Flanker task
• CF: Flanker task
WM00(p = 0.995)
IC+(p < 0.05)
• CF+(p < 0.05)
Benzing & Schmidta (2019, Switzerland) [60] RCT 8–12; 84%;
ICD-10
10.46 ± 1.30
(10.39 ± 1.44)
51 (28/23) Chronic Home Exergaming (Watching video) CEE MVPA 30-min/session, 3 times/wk 8 wk. (720) WM: CSB
IC: Simon task
• CF: Flanker task
WM00(p = 0.482)
IC+(p < 0.049)
• CF+(p < 0.029)
Pan et al.a (2019, Taiwan) [65] nRCT 7–12; M-100%;
DSM-4
9.08 ± 1.43
(8.90 ± 1.66)
TD 9.14 ± 1.54
60 (15IG/15CG/30TD-CG) Chronic Gym Table tennis CEE NR 70-min/session, twice/wk 12 wk. (1680) IC: Stroop
• CF: WCST
IC+(p = 0.41)
• CF+(p < 0.05)
Silva et al.a (2019, Brazil) [68] RCT 11–14, M-70%,
DSM-4
12.0 ± 2.0
(12.0 ± 1.0)
20 (10/10) Chronic Community Swimming AE NR 45-min/session, twice/wk 8 wk. (720) • CF: The Test of Trails • CF+(p = 0.042)
Ludyga et al. (2020, Switzerland) [63] Crossover 11–16; M-65%;
DSM-5
12.8 ± 1.8
(13.5 ± 1.3)
34 (16/18TD) Acute Clinical Cycling (Watching video) AE Moderate (65–70% HRmax) 20-min/session 1 session (20) • CF: The Alternate Uses Task • CF+(p = 0.43)
• higher task performance scores following exercise
  1. ACT Assisted Cycling Therapy, AE aerobic exercise, AWMA Automated Working Memory Assessment System, CBTT Corsi block-tapping task, CEE cognitively engaging exercise, CF cognitive flexibility, CG control group, CTT Color Trails Test, CSB color span backwards, DSFBT Digit span forward and backward test, DSM-4 and-5 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition and Fifth Edition, GARS-2 the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale, 2nd edition, GNG Go-No-Go task, IC inhibitory control, ICD-10 International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, IG intervention group, K-ARS-PT Korean version of the parent and teacher version of DuPaul’s ADHD Rating Scale, LNST Letter–number-sequencing task, NR no report, NYG Nei Yang Gong, PPT pre-post-test, RCO Randomized crossover, RCT Randomized Control Trial, SNAP-4 Swanson, Nolan and Pelham Rating Scale, Fourth Edition, STOPIT Stop-Signal Inhibition Task, TD typical developing children, TEAC Test of Everyday Attention for Children, TMT Trail Making Test, TOL Tower of London, VC Voluntary Cycling, WCST Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, WM working memory, %HRmax Percentage of maximal heart rate, %HRR Percentage of heart-rate reserve (i.e., the training intensity zone is based on the ACSM Guideline 2018)
  2. a Studies included in the meta-analysis; +: significant statistical improvement; 00: no statistically significant change