Workout Before the Bell May Reduce ADHD Symptoms in Class

Before-school physical activity may help improve a child’s attention span in the classroom.

A new study suggests offering daily before-school, aerobic activities to younger at-risk children could help in reducing symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in the classroom and at home.

Michigan State University (MSU) and University of Vermont researchers explain that the activity could help to improve inattentiveness, moodiness, and difficulty getting along with others.

The study can be found in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.

“Early studies suggest that physical activity can have a positive effect on children who suffer from ADHD,” said Alan Smith, Ph.D., of the MSU Department of Kinesiology, who conducted the research along with lead author Betsy Hoza, Ph.D.

Previous research has shown improved brain function and better math and reading skills in elementary students who were exposed to a bout of physical activity.

Nevertheless, the potential benefit of consistent exercise on symptoms and impairments associated with the ADHD has not been studied.

Over a 12-week period, Smith and Hoza studied about 200 early elementary school students ranging from kindergarten to second grade who either exhibited signs of ADHD or didn’t.

During the trial, students were randomly selected to participate in a group that completed moderate to vigorous physical activity each day before school, or a group that completed more sedentary classroom-type activities.

“Although our findings indicated that all participants showed improvements, children with ADHD risk receiving exercise benefited across a broader range of outcomes than those receiving the sedentary activities,” Smith said.

Smith indicated that further studies are needed to better understand the frequency and amount of physical activity that can provide benefits to children and added that the effects of exercise may be different based on a child’s age.

“Despite the number of remaining questions, physical activity appears to be a promising intervention method for ADHD with well-known benefits to health overall,” he said. “This gives schools one more good reason to incorporate physical activity into the school day.”

Source: Michigan State University

Young boy exercising photo by shutterstock.