Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in General Psychology (MAGP)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Tracy Alloway

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael Tolgia

Department Chair

Dr. Michael Tolgia

College Dean

Dr. Barbara Hetrick


The aim of the present study was to compare the effects of barefoot versus shod running on working memory. I recruited exercise science students from the University of North Florida who exercised recreationally. Participants ran both barefoot and shod while hitting targets (poker chips) on a running track and without targets. I measured working memory using backward digit recall and also recorded participants’ heart rate, speed, and target accuracy. The main finding from this study was that working memory performance increased in the barefoot condition when participants hit targets (poker chips). This result supports the idea that additional attention is needed when running barefoot to avoid stepping on objects that could potentially cause harm to the foot. Significant increases in participant’s heart rate were also found in the barefoot condition but not in the shod condition. No significant differences found in participants’ speed in the barefoot or shod condition, nor were there any in the target or no target condition. Together, these findings suggest that individuals working memory increases after at least sixteen minutes of barefoot running if they have to look at the ground to avoid objects that may cause harm to their feet. Barefoot running may help individuals of all ages; from delaying the onset of cognitive deterioration in the elderly, obesity prevention for individuals of all ages, to providing a boost in cognitive performance for children who are behind their peers in school.