Exercise may lead to better school performance for kids with ADHD

October 16, 2012
A study led by Michigan State University's Matthew Pontifex found that a few minutes of exercise can help children with ADHD perform better academically. Credit: Michigan State University

A few minutes of exercise can help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder perform better academically, according to a new study led by a Michigan State University researcher.

The study, published in the current issue of the Journal of Pediatrics, shows for the first time that kids with ADHD can better drown out distractions and focus on a task after a single bout of exercise. Scientists say such "" is the main challenge faced by people with the disorder.

"This provides some very early evidence that exercise might be a tool in our nonpharmaceutical treatment of ADHD," said Matthew Pontifex, MSU assistant professor of , who led the study. "Maybe our first course of action that we would recommend to developmental psychologists would be to increase children's physical activity."

Matthew Pontifex, Michigan State University assistant professor of kinesiology, uses an EEG cap to monitor brain activity in study participants. Credit: Michigan State University

While drugs have proven largely effective in treating many of the 2.5 million school-aged American children with ADHD, a growing number of parents and physicians worry about the side effects and costs of medication.

In the study, Pontifex and colleagues asked 40 children aged 8 to 10, half of whom had ADHD, to spend 20 minutes either walking briskly on a treadmill or reading while seated. The children then took a brief and math exam similar to longer . They also played a simple computer game in which they had to ignore to quickly determine which direction a cartoon fish was swimming.

The results showed all of the children performed better on both tests after exercising. In the , those with ADHD also were better able to slow down after making an error to avoid repeat mistakes – a particular challenge for those with the disorder.

Pontifex said the findings support calls for more physical activity during the school day. Other researchers have found that children with ADHD are less likely to be physically active or play organized sports. Meanwhile, many schools have cut recess and physical education programs in response to shrinking budgets.

"To date there really isn't a whole lot of evidence that schools can pull from to justify why these physical education programs should be in existence," he said. "So what we're trying to do is target our research to provide that type of evidence."

Explore further: Physical activity program leads to better behavior for children with ADHD

Related Stories

Physical activity program leads to better behavior for children with ADHD

January 17, 2012
While children who suffer from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) struggle with hyperactive-impulses and have trouble maintaining attention, a recent study found that a structured physical activity program may ...

Study finds children with ADHD also at risk for writing difficulties

August 26, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Researchers from the Mayo Clinic have just completed a study to find out if children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) also have problems with writing. It has long been known that children ...

Signs of ADHD evident by preschool, expert says

August 1, 2012
(HealthDay) -- One out of 11 school-aged children is diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and up to 40 percent of those kids may display symptoms in preschool, an expert says.

Hyperactivity: Increased prevalence of children with ADHD and the use of stimulants

March 5, 2012
A new study from the Université de Montréal shows an increase in prevalence of Canadian children diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and in the use of medications associated with ADHD ...

Functional brain pathways disrupted in children with ADHD

November 28, 2011
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), researchers have identified abnormalities in the brains of children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that may serve as a biomarker for the disorder, ...

New study looks at medication use of kids with ASD, ADHD

February 17, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Many children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can benefit from medication for related disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Recommended for you

What can twitter reveal about people with ADHD?

November 9, 2017
What can Twitter reveal about people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD? Quite a bit about what life is like for someone with the condition, according to findings published by University of Pennsylvania ...

Brain imaging reveals ADHD as a collection of different disorders

November 8, 2017
Researchers have found that patients with different types of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have impairments in unique brain systems, indicating that there may not be a one-size-fits-all explanation for the ...

Can adults develop ADHD? New research says probably not

October 20, 2017
Adults likely do not develop ADHD, according to new research by FIU clinical psychologist Margaret Sibley.

Nearly a third of college kids think ADHD meds boost grades

October 16, 2017
(HealthDay)—Many college students who abuse ADHD drugs mistakenly believe that doing so will lead to better grades, a new survey suggests.

School year 'relative age' causing bias in ADHD diagnosis, says research

October 9, 2017
Younger primary school children are more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than their older peers within the same school year, new research has shown.

Eye movements reveal temporal expectation deficits in ADHD

September 12, 2017
A technique that measures tiny movements of the eyes may help scientists better understand and perhaps eventually improve assessment of ADHD, according to new research published in Psychological Science.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.