Benefits of Exercise for Children with ADHD

Healthy HeartAttention deficit hyperactivity disorder can impact both children and adults. Some of the typical symptoms of ADHD include restlessness, lack of focus, and excessive fidgeting. These behaviors can be especially problematic for children in a classroom setting. Not only will kids have difficulty focusing on lessons, but they may distract other students from learning as well. These behaviors tend to lead to disciplinary problems. People with ADHD can also have difficulty with peer social interactions, and they may find it challenging to control impulses. Research has indicated that exercise may be a beneficial treatment option for kids with ADHD, especially when a plan utilizes physical activity in conjunction with other treatments for controlling symptoms.

About ADHD

Children and teenagers may struggle with ADHD, but this disorder can also carry over into adulthood. The main characteristics of this disorder involve hyperactivity and a lack of impulse control. The inability to focus and stay still may make it difficult for people with ADHD to manage themselves in both school and home settings. As adults, people struggling with ADHD may have trouble organizing their time, making realistic goals, and staying employed. Researchers are searching for definitive causes of ADHD. However, this mental disorder may be connected to heredity, prenatal care, or chemical imbalances in the brain. Experts utilize a number of treatments to manage the symptoms of ADHD.

Exercise and the Brain

Children’s brains respond in a specific way to exercise. With physical exertion, a child’s brain releases neurotransmitters. These chemicals include dopamine, which has a direct correlation with attention span. Some stimulant medication prescribed for managing ADHD has the same effect on the brain, stimulating the brain to release dopamine. As the physical activity increases blood flow, the brain tends to respond with clearer thinking and an increased ability to focus. Physical activity that raises the heart rate may even have a correlation with growth of the hippocampus, which is a part of the brain involved with learning and verbal memory.

How Exercise Helps Thinking and Behavior

Exercise can have a powerful impact on cognitive function. During aerobic exercise, like working out on an elliptical trainer, brain-derived neurotrophic factor releases into the brain. As this occurs, new neurons actually grow in the brain. People with ADHD often have trouble organizing themselves, solving problems, and making plans. A lack of these basic skills makes it difficult to remember important details throughout the day. Planning a school project or remembering to complete homework assignments can be monumental tasks for students with ADHD. With daily physical activity, a youngster with ADHD may experience increased cognitive function and a better mastery of personal organization and self-control. Using exercise in conjunction with ADHD medications can be especially effective for some patients.

More Reasons to Exercise

The fidgeting and excess energy that many kids with ADHD experience can be problematic. Many children have behavioral problems and trouble getting along with peers socially due to their boundless energy. When kids engage in regular exercise, they may release some of this excess energy, which can free them to focus on their studies in the classroom. A calmer child often gets along better with peers as well. Studies have suggested that children with ADHD who participate in morning exercise before spending time in the classroom may experience fewer problems with moodiness and inattention. Kids may also have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight and controlling other health issues such as cholesterol and blood pressure when they exercise regularly. Kids who participate in a sports program or other regular exercise are also more likely to experience higher self-esteem and greater self-confidence, which can positively impact other areas of their lives.

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