Exercise Helps ADD Symptoms
In 2013, the British Journal of Sports Medicine discussed a study that looked at the effects of short bursts of exercise on higher-level thinking that involved executive function. This is the type of thinking that takes place in the pre-frontal cortex. The pre-frontal cortex is the part of the brain that helps people function well in a classroom. It controls impulsivity, inhibition, and memory formation, all important for classroom activities. The study authors believed that the increased blood flow to the pre-frontal cortex from intense bursts of exercise could support the activities of the executive function of the pre-frontal cortex by adding oxygen to this part of the brain.
Across the Atlantic Ocean, a 2014 study reported from the Michigan State University and University of Vermont researchers seems to confirm the earlier British findings about the effects of exercise on students with Attention Deficit Disorder. The study involved 200 elementary students and lasted for a period of 12 weeks. This study followed an earlier study at Michigan State University which found that in elementary students their brain functioning improved with exercise. Improved brain function, due to exercise, had a positive effect on math and reading skills. The 12-week study had students exercise before school. A control group did sedentary activities. Students with Attention Deficit Disorder improved their attention and mood after completing daily exercise. Although all students seemed to benefit, the students with ADD showed significant improvement after just half-an-hour of daily exercise.
Here are some ideas for before-school exercise:
*Any type of household cleaning that gets the heart-rate up, which includes picking items up, vacuuming, sweeping, and mopping.
*Wii fitness games. Children do need to have a high level of exercise intensity for the Wii to help improve brain functioning.
*Walking or running to school. If it is not safe for children to walk alone, parents could work together to provide a walking caravan service. Several parents walk quickly with the children and stop to pick up other kids along the way. Parents can choose days to accompany the kids on their walks to school.
*Tai chi and yoga help with increasing blood flow all over the body.
*Dancing vigorously to their favorite music can provide extra oxygen to the brain.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children and adolescents should get at least one hour of physical activity each day. This recommendation seems especially important for children with Attention Deficit Disorder. These exercise studies raise questions about the effects of exercise on kids with ADD. What is the optimal amount of exercise? Which types of exercise provide the most benefit? Does the age of the child make a difference in the effect of the exercise? When is the best time to exercise to have it assist a child in the classroom? More studies need to be conducted to answer these and other questions about the advantages of exercise for kids with Attention Deficit Disorder.
BMJ-British Medical Journal (2013, March 6). Short bouts of exercise boost self control. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
Michigan State University. "Exercise before school may reduce ADHD symptoms in kids." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 September 2014.
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