• The effects of attentional focus on the reliability of exercise regulation in children

      Lamb, Kevin L.; Thompson, Janice (University of Liverpool (Chester College of Higher Education), 2000-10)
      Many studies of effort perception in children have focused on physiological mediators; far fewer studies have sought to investigate the psychological factors involved in perceived exertion. This study investigates the influence of a psychological factor, attention on effort perception. More specifically this study endeavours to establish whether an internal focus enables children to be more reliable than an external focus at regulating their exercise output on the basis of their effort perception. Thirty-six children (20 girls and 16 boys) aged between 9-11 years, were randomly assigned to one of three conditions; external focus (EF), internal focus (IF) and a control group (CG). Each group received two exercise trials (Tl & T2) seven days apart. On both occasions all subjects were introduced to the 1-10 Children's Effort Elating Table (CERT) and were instructed to produce 3 randomly ordered exercise intensities on a cycle ergometer. These 4 minute bouts corresponded to levels 3, 5 and 7 of the CERT scale, and were interspersed with 2 minute rest periods. Heart rates (HR) and Power outputs (PO) were recorded during the final minute of each level. The variability of these variables was analysed using a two-way ANOVA with repeated measures, and their reliability was quantified for each group via interclass (Pearson) and intraclass correlation coefficients and the 95% Limits of Agreement (LoA, expressed as bias +/- 1.96 x Sd diff). A significant two-way interaction (F = 2.602; p<0.05) was observed between groups and across levels for the HR data. Post hoc analysis revealed significant differences between the EF and both the IF and CG at CERT level 3. These findings appear to support the proposal that psychological factors such as attention are more influential at lower intensities, as heart rates for all groups were similar at the higher intensities. No significant differences were observed between groups for the PO data. Whilst the three reliability statistics lend themselves to different interpretations, there does not appear to be a group effect. The results from this study were interpreted in terms of limited attentional focus. However, with no clear group effect in terms of reliability, there appears little advantage in encouraging children to focus their attention internally to aid them in producing a required exercise intensity.