Previous studies have shown that hydration status and water consumption affects cognitive performance but, to date, little research has looked at the effects on fine motor skills.
To investigate whether water consumption improved performance on tasks that require predominately fine motor skills.
In Study 1, 57 children (mean age 10.11 years) were tested individually. In one occasion children were given a drink of water (500 millilitres) and on the other occasion they were not. They completed a selection of cognitive tasks and a finger-tapping task pre and post-intervention; a urine sample was collected and urine osmolality (Uosm) analysed. In Study 2, 86 children (mean age 10.1 years) were tested pre and post-intervention in a drink or no drink condition on a bead threading, finger tapping, handwriting and Figure-Ground task.
In Study 1, the number of finger taps were significantly higher on the occasion that children had a drink compared to when they did not (p<0.05). Exploratory analysis suggests that this effect was moderated by Uosm. In Study 2, having a drink of water increased handwriting speed (p<0.05) and there was a trend for finger-tapping speed to increase but handwriting quality and Figure-Ground performance was not affected.
Fine motor speed increased when children had a drink of water. This finding is important because children spend a large proportion of the school day using fine motor skills and handwriting skill can predict future academic performance.
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