Symposium Presentation 1 – water and motor performance in children

Water consumption positively affects motor and cognitive task performance in children

Paula Booth and Caroline J Edmonds


Objectives. Studies of adults show that dehydration negatively affects motors skills, cognitive performance and mood. Recent studies have shown that water consumption positively affects cognitive performance and mood in children.  This study investigated whether water consumption improves children’s performance on motor and cognitive tasks.

Design. Performance on two occasions was compared. On one occasion children were given an additional 250mls water to drink and on another they were not (Water vs No Water).  A series of cognitive and motor tests were conducted and performance compared in the two conditions and correlated with the amount of water drunk.

Methods.  Fifteen children aged 8 to 9 years old were assessed in the Water and No Water conditions. They participated in the following tasks; thirst scale, mood scale, letter cancellation, step ups, ball catching and “Raving Rabbid” Wii whack a mole style game.

Results. On average, children drank 169 mls water. Children rated themselves as less thirsty on the occasion on which they had a drink.  They also performed better on the letter cancellation task.  Task performance was better on all three motor tasks in the Water condition, but only significantly so in the case of “Raving Rabbids”. There were dose-response effects on “Raving Rabbids”, step up and ball catching tasks, with greater amounts of water drunk correlating with better performance.

Conclusions. Children’s cognitive and motor performance can be improved by having a drink of water. This has implications for policies on the availability of drinking water in schools.

2 Responses to “Symposium Presentation 1 – water and motor performance in children”

  1. Meghan Parker says:

    The findings of your research are so exciting! I am writing a literature review for my graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University. I was wondering if I could have access to a copy of your research paper.
    Thank you in advance for your assistance and have a great week!

  2. caroline says:

    Hi Meghan, So sorry I’m late replying to you. I’ve sent you an email. About to put up details of a new paper.
    bw Caroline