The relationship of aerobic and motor fitness with executive functions in preadolescents

  • Vladimir J. MiloševićEmail author
  • Ana Orlić
  • Danka Purić
  • Snežana Radisavljević Janić
  • Dušanka Lazarević
  • Ivana Milanović


Recent research findings have indicated that aerobic fitness and motor fitness are related to specific executive functions (EF). However, it is not clear whether the relationships of these fitness factors with executive functions are dependent on each other. The goal of this study was thus to investigate the relationship of aerobic fitness, motor fitness, and their interaction with EF in preadolescents. The sample consisted of 137 students (67 boys) aged 9–10 years. Physical fitness assessment included measures of aerobic fitness (20 m shuttle run test) and motor fitness (Hurdle and crawl test), while EF assessment encompassed measures of inhibition (Modified Stroop task), shifting (Smiley task) and updating (Letter memory task). The results showed that motor fitness was positively related to inhibition, r = .22, p < .05, while aerobic fitness was positively related to shifting r = .22, p < .05. Multiple regression and post hoc analyses indicated that aerobic fitness was positively related to shifting only when motor fitness was also high (β = .44, p < .01). This pattern of results could indicate the potential relevance of high levels of both motor and aerobic fitness for EF.


Children Shifting Updating Inhibition Cardiorespiratory fitness Skill-related fitness 



We would like to thank the students for participating in this study, as well as the teachers of Elementary school “Svetozar Miletić” Zemun, Serbia who kindly helped us with gathering the data. Special thanks go to Aleksandar Ružić and Marko Milojević for motor testing and expertise in children’s anthropometrics and biomechanics issues.

This paper is the result of the projects ‘Improving the quality and accessibility of education in modernization processes in Serbia’ No 47008 and ‘The effects of physical activity application to locomotor, metabolic, psychosocial and educational status with the population of the Republic of Serbia’ No III47015 financially supported by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Serbia.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Institutional Review Board of the University of Belgrade, Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Additional informed consent was obtained for all individual participants for whom identifying information is included in this article.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Sport and Physical EducationUniversity of BelgradeBelgradeSerbia
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, Faculty of PhilosophyUniversity of BelgradeBelgradeSerbia

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