Exercise Reduces ADHD Symptoms

A study from Michigan State University, MSU, and University of Vermont has shown that engaging children suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, in daily before-school aerobic activities could help in reducing the symptoms associated with the disorder in the classroom and at home. According to the researchers, inattentiveness, moodiness and difficulty in getting along with others are signs of ADHD.

According to Alan Smith, chairperson of MSU’s Department of Kinesiology, “Early studies suggest that physical activity can have a positive effect on children who suffer from ADHD,” adding that “although our findings indicated that all participants showed improvements, children with ADHD receiving exercise benefited from a broader range of outcomes than those receiving the sedentary activities.”

Previous MSU research has shown improved brain function and better mathematics and reading skills in elementary students who were exposed to a bout of physical activity. Yet, it is not as widely known how consistent exercise might improve the broad range of symptoms and impairments associated with the disorder. Over a 12-week period, Smith and Betsy Hoza, author and psychologist, University of Vermont, studied about 200 early elementary school students ranging from kindergarten to second grade that either exhibited signs of ADHD or did not. During the trial, students were randomly selected to participate in a group that completed moderate to vigorous physical activity each day before school, or a group that completed more sedentary classroom-type activities.

Smith indicated that further studies are needed to better understand the frequency and amount of physical activity that can provide benefits to children and added that the effects of exercise may be different based on a child’s age. “Despite the number of remaining questions, physical activity appears to be a promising intervention method for ADHD with well-known benefits to health overall. This gives schools one more good reason to incorporate physical activity into the school day,” he said.


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