Source: ABC News
In September 2014 “Good Morning America” had a special segment sharing the results of a study on how exercise impacted kids with ADHD. They reported that in the US, 6 million kids are diagnosed with ADHD, with half of them on medication. In the reported study, the researchers introduced exercise for 100 students diagnosed with ADHD but not on medication. They found that students who exercised had improvement in mood and behavior.
Another recent study out of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found:
Following a single 20-minute bout of exercise, both children with ADHD and healthy match-control children exhibited greater response accuracy and stimulus-related processing – with children with ADHD also exhibiting selective enhancements in regulatory processes – compared with after a similar duration of the seated reading. In addition, greater performance in the areas of reading and arithmetic was observed following exercise in both groups.
The researchers’ conclusion:
These findings indicate that single bouts of moderately-intense aerobic exercise may have positive implications for aspects of neurocognitive function and inhibitory control in children with ADHD.
The Wall Street Journal recently had an article that stated:
A recent study found regular, half-hour sessions of aerobic activity before school helped young children with symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder become more attentive and less moody. Other research found a single bout of exercise improved students’ attention and academic skills…Schools that adopted the exercise program [David Katz’s program, ABC for Fitness] for most of the academic year had a 33% decline in ADHD medications used by their students. That compared with a smaller, 7% decline in medication use in the schools not using the program.
In my own study of students with ADHD and behavioral issues, where office referrals decreased by 36%, the one variable that stood out was that we used Exergaming as the tool for exercise. The reason that variable was so important is that the students were consistently motivated to exercise so that they could reap the benefits that exercise offers on a daily basis. Anecdotally, the teachers’ reports correlated with what the studies stated above and others have found. The evidence is so powerful that I believe that every Special Ed director and teacher should strongly consider intervening with exercise as a positive and constructive way to support all students but especially those with ADHD and behavioral issues.
As Allison Cameron, a teacher of special education in Saskatoon who began using exercise as an intervention years ago and who has been instrumental in bringing it to classrooms across America said, “Everybody comes back and says there are positive effects behaviorally, emotionally, academically, and asks, ‘Why isn’t everyone doing it? ”