Two recent articles have emphasized the importance of physical exercise in children with ADHD. the first is a new study published in the Journal of Attention disorders., which showed that a physical activity program improved cognitive function and behavior in children with ADHD. Children were given a 10 week, 3x/week, 45 minutes session of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise. ADHD symptoms improved, and perhaps more importantly, cognitive skills. “Specifically, it seems that children with ADHD in the experimental group were more efficient in information processing as shown by faster speeds of visual research and better sustained auditory attention.” There was a control group who did not get the exercise program, but parents and teachers were not blinded as to what group their kids were in. So theoretically teacher and parent expectations might have caused better ratings on the ADHD scales, but the children were given standardized testa for cognitive skills and its hard to see how thee would have improved from placebo effect.
In a second article, published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine researchers analyzed the existing studies on the relationship of exercise and academic performance. they found “strong evidence of a significant positive relationship between physical activity and academic performance,” this research considered all children, not specifically those with ADHD, but there is no reason to think this would apply less to ADHD children than anyone else. in fact, many parents tellme their ADHD children have much fewer problems with their homework if they get to play outside first.
Bottom Line – do everything you can to give your child a chance for daily physical activity. If there is no daily PE at school, push to create it. it doesn’t have to be organized sports, which some ADHD kids do not like.They can ride their bikes, go on hikes, walk on the beach, or just play outside withtheir friends and receive benefit. martial arts are often helpful and well accepted.
A Physical activity program ADHD