Effect of Taekwondo Practice on Cognitive Function in Adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Jan 12;16(2):204. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16020204.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neuro-developmental/behavioral disorders among adolescents. Sport and physical activity seem to play a major role in the development of cognition, memory, selective attention and motor reaction time, especially among adolescents with ADHD. In this context, the objective of this study was to investigate the effects of a one-and-a-half-year-long Taekwondo (TKD) intervention on cognitive function in adolescents with ADHD. Two cognitive instruments, namely the Stroop and the Ruff 2 and 7 tests, were administered to assess attentional inhibitory control and sustained and selective visual attention, respectively. Comparisons between the TKD and control groups at baseline did not reveal significant differences. For post-test scores, there were statistically significant differences on the Stroop color block test (large effect size or ES = 1.26 [95% confidence interval or CI 0.30⁻2.22]), the color-word interference test (large ES = 2.16 [95% CI 1.10⁻3.26]), the interference test (large ES = 1.63 [95% CI 0.62⁻2.64]) and error (large ES = -2.20 [95% CI -3.31 to -1.10]). Similar trends were reported for the Ruff 2 and 7 automated detection trials (large ES = 2.78 [95% CI 1.55⁻4.01]), controlled search trials (large ES = 2.56 [95% CI 1.38⁻3.75]) and total speed (large ES = -2.90 [95% CI -4.15 to -1.64]). In conclusion, TKD practice increased selective attention in adolescents with ADHD. Practitioners should implement martial art programs in their general plans to favorably influence attention and health in adolescents with ADHD.

Keywords: ADHD disorder; cognitive functions; martial art; taekwondo.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Child
  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Martial Arts*