Exercise seems to help children with ADHD focus.

Just 20 minutes of physical activity per day may help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to recent research.



While the results are exciting researchers have reinforced that they are not saying the exercise is the whole answer to ADHD, but it does seem to help with concentration.

During the study the researchers assessed how a single period of exercise affected concentration levels in a small group of 10 year olds.

Lead researcher Matthew Pontifex said “that this was only a first study” and further research is needed to assess how exercise may compliment and or compare to traditional methods of treatment and then whether exercise is a viable means to help manage ADHD in some children.

There has been a lot of attention in the media about ADHD and its treatment and a concern that stimulant type medications are being over used and over prescribed.

Pontifex of Michigan State University added that there has been a plethora of research into the relationship between regular exercise or physical training and cognitive performance in adults, however little is known about children. The study consisted of 20 children with attention deficit and 20 children without ADHD as the control.

The kids were assessed on their ability to remain on task and avoid distractions, one of the areas that children with ADHD find particularly difficult. Each child took the tests following a period of quite rest (reading) and on a separate day a period of physical training.

Overall, the study found, both groups of children performed better after exercise than after reading.

Again lead researcher Pontifex cautioned that it was a small study and that it is difficult to extrapolate what those differences would mean in real life situations. Pontifex also commented that they were unsure of the mechanism behind the improvement.

There is a theory that some of the problems with concentration in children with ADHD are related to under arousal of the central nervous system and it is possible that a burst of exercise may help children to zero in on a specific task, even if only for a short period.

“Exercise is beneficial for all children,” Pontifex noted. “We’re providing some evidence that there’s an additional benefit on cognition.” The research was published in The Journal of Pediatrics.

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Via Voices of Youth