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Physical Activity for Cognitive and Mental Health in Youth: A Systematic Review of Mechanisms

Overview of attention for article published in Pediatrics, August 2016
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (95th percentile)
  • Good Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (68th percentile)

Mentioned by

1 news outlet
63 tweeters
2 Facebook pages


149 Dimensions

Readers on

474 Mendeley
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Physical Activity for Cognitive and Mental Health in Youth: A Systematic Review of Mechanisms
Published in
Pediatrics, August 2016
DOI 10.1542/peds.2016-1642
Pubmed ID

David Lubans, Justin Richards, Charles Hillman, Guy Faulkner, Mark Beauchamp, Michael Nilsson, Paul Kelly, Jordan Smith, Lauren Raine, Stuart Biddle, Lubans, David, Richards, Justin, Hillman, Charles, Faulkner, Guy, Beauchamp, Mark, Nilsson, Michael, Kelly, Paul, Smith, Jordan, Raine, Lauren, Biddle, Stuart, D. Lubans, J. Richards, C. Hillman, G. Faulkner, M. Beauchamp, M. Nilsson, P. Kelly, J. Smith, L. Raine, S. Biddle


Physical activity can improve cognitive and mental health, but the underlying mechanisms have not been established. To present a conceptual model explaining the mechanisms for the effect of physical activity on cognitive and mental health in young people and to conduct a systematic review of the evidence. Six electronic databases (PubMed, PsycINFO, SCOPUS, Ovid Medline, SportDiscus, and Embase) were used. School-, home-, or community-based physical activity intervention or laboratory-based exercise interventions were assessed. Studies were eligible if they reported statistical analyses of changes in the following: (1) cognition or mental health; and (2) neurobiological, psychosocial, and behavioral mechanisms. Data relating to methods, assessment period, participant characteristics, intervention type, setting, and facilitator/delivery were extracted. Twenty-five articles reporting results from 22 studies were included. Mechanisms studied were neurobiological (6 studies), psychosocial (18 studies), and behavioral (2 studies). Significant changes in at least 1 potential neurobiological mechanism were reported in 5 studies, and significant effects for at least 1 cognitive outcome were also found in 5 studies. One of 2 studies reported a significant effect for self-regulation, but neither study reported a significant impact on mental health. Small number of studies and high levels of study heterogeneity. The strongest evidence was found for improvements in physical self-perceptions, which accompanied enhanced self-esteem in the majority of studies measuring these outcomes. Few studies examined neurobiological and behavioral mechanisms, and we were unable to draw conclusions regarding their role in enhancing cognitive and mental health.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 63 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 474 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United Kingdom 1 <1%
United States 1 <1%
Unknown 472 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 87 18%
Student > Ph. D. Student 75 16%
Student > Bachelor 72 15%
Researcher 52 11%
Student > Doctoral Student 38 8%
Other 79 17%
Unknown 71 15%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Sports and Recreations 91 19%
Psychology 80 17%
Medicine and Dentistry 58 12%
Nursing and Health Professions 40 8%
Social Sciences 34 7%
Other 66 14%
Unknown 105 22%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 47. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 02 November 2017.
All research outputs
of 13,345,707 outputs
Outputs from Pediatrics
of 12,511 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 262,642 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Pediatrics
of 184 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 13,345,707 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 97th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 12,511 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 37.3. This one has done well, scoring higher than 85% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 262,642 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 95% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 184 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 68% of its contemporaries.