Exercise in the classroom has many positive benefits
Although it might seem counter-intuitive, various studies have shown that engaging in exercise helps children with ADHD improve their cognitive function, focus, and mood. According to the article, Improving Your Child's ADHD with Exercise, exercise releases hormones and brain chemicals that parallel the effects of commonly prescribed ADHD medications. While it may not totally replace prescription drugs, exercise has been shown to have definite benefits that help children perform better academically and feel better about themselves.
ADHD is a leading disability
ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed disorder among U.S. children, with over 6.5 million reported cases as of 2011 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This affects one in five boys and one in 11 girls, with many children still undiagnosed. Children with ADHD have problems with inhibitory control, and often have trouble paying attention. The usual solution to treating this disorder has been a prescription medication to treat the symptoms. However a new solution other than medication has been proved to be affective in treating the symptoms of ADHD.
The article 5 Simple Concentration Building Techniques for Kids with ADHD, however, offers an alternative to medication: physical activity. In fact, studies have show that simple excercise improves academic performance, according Betsy Hoza, a professor of psychological science at the University of Vermont. Her recent study found moderate to vigorous aerobic activity before school helped children with ADHD become more attentive.
Physical exercise alleviates ADHD's effects
These studies show that exercise can improve cognitive function, and even helps diminish anxiety and depression. Aerobic exercise in particular may help students with ADHD focus more and improve test scores in school. While exercising, children get a rush of hormones and brain chemicals -- Serotonin, Dopamine, and Norepinephrine -- that can trigger this improvement in mood and concentration.
Exercise could be a great alternative to medicinal treatment for children with ADHD. The benefits are similar to medication, but without the negative side effects which often accompany such meds. However, the effects of medication do last for many hours, whereas exercise has a more temporary effect.
Using exercise for your child
To lengthen the effects of exercise, researchers are pushing for exercise for kids throughout the day. Of course, since this is difficult to achieve, researches suggest some activities which can be done at home with parents. This could include allowing twenty minutes of vigorous activity before boarding the school bus, studying while walking, and exercising before attempting homework.
While this may require some extra effort, medication can have a slew of often devastating side effects. It's good news that hard exercise can be a valid alternative. While the effects require more careful study, researchers are already seeing that a mere twenty minutes of aerobic exercise help just as much as some medications. If schools can’t or won’t implement exercise breaks, parents can take their own measures to give kids a chance to burn off some excess energy before joining their classes.
As a parent of a child with ADHD, exercise as a way to combat the symptoms of ADHD was a breakthrough for our family. Honestly, when my child was 0-4 it was exhausting trying to get him to sit still and be quietly busy for any amount of time! I desperately needed to teach him how to control his movement! When he started school, his teachers was fed up with his inability to stay focused in comparison to his peers. Homework time at home was even worse! One day I said "just go run around and be silly!" My son looked at me funny and did that for about 15 minutes! A little more tired he sat down, focused, and continue to finish his homework! These cycles of running around and homework continued wih great success!
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