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Original Article

Korean J Physiol Pharmacol 2024; 28(4): 295-302

Published online July 1, 2024 https://doi.org/10.4196/kjpp.2024.28.4.295

Copyright © Korean J Physiol Pharmacol.

Barefoot walking improves cognitive ability in adolescents

Taehun Kim1,#, Dae Yun Seo2,#, Jun Hyun Bae3,†, and Jin Han2,*

1Department of Physical Education, College of Education, Kyungpook National University, Daegu 41566, 2Basic Research Laboratory, Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, Smart Marine Therapeutic Center, Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease Center, Inje University, Busan 47392, 3Able-Art Sport, Department Theory, Hyupsung University, Hwaseong 18330, Korea

Correspondence to:Jin Han
E-mail: phyhanj@inje.ac.kr

#These authors contributed equally to this work.

Current affiliation: Institute of Sports Science, Department of Physical Education, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Korea

Received: December 1, 2023; Revised: March 25, 2024; Accepted: April 2, 2024

Abstract

Walking can have a positive impact on cognitive function in adolescents. This study aimed to compare the effects of walking with sneakers and barefoot on cognitive ability in adolescents. Fifty-nine adolescent male students were included in the study and assigned to the control (n = 20), sneaker (n = 19), and barefoot (n = 20) groups. The barefoot and sneakers group performed a 40-min walking exercise four times a week for 12 weeks during the morning physical activity time, while the control group performed self-study. Electroencephalogram (EEG) and brain activity variables were measured before and after the exercise program. The results showed that after 12 weeks, the barefoot group had a significant decrease in Gamma and H-beta waves and a significant increase in sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) and Alpha waves. Conversely, the control group showed a significant decrease in SMR waves and increase in Theta waves. The sneaker group showed a significant decrease in SMR waves alone. In an eyes-open resting state, the barefoot group showed a significant increase in H-beta, M-beta, SMR, and Alpha waves. The barefoot group also had a significant increase in cognitive speed and concentration and a significant decrease in brain stress. Taken together, barefoot walking can effectively enhance cognitive ability in adolescents, as demonstrated by the significant variation in EEG activity. This research highlights the potential benefits of barefoot walking as a simple and effective form of exercise for enhancing cognitive function in adolescents.

Keywords: Cognition, Electroencephalography, Exercise