Dancing helps hyperactive children to calm down, pay attention in class and avoid getting into fights, a study has shown.

Researchers encouraged energetic movement in unruly boys aged five to seven with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – and found that their behaviour improved.

Professor Erna Gronlund, who led the study, said: "Boys with ADHD calmed down. Their parents and teachers reported that they did their schoolwork better.

"One boy could only sit in a classroom for ten minutes previously, and after dance therapy he could attend a whole lesson.

"These boys could also play with other children without getting into conflict and fighting all the time."

Dance sessions started at "full throttle" with wild jumping and freely expressed movement.

Then they did more controlled exercises which required listening and role playing.

The research project was developed at Karlstad University and the University College of Dance in Stockholm.