photograph by Zurijeta | Dreamstime.com
If you have a child who’s on the hyperactive side, you may feel like it’s your job to teach your child to sit down and concentrate. But a new study found that allowing children to move actually helps them perform better academically.
The study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, looked at how a few minutes of exercise would affect children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in the classroom. The result? Kids with ADHD clearly demonstrated they can better drown out distractions and focus on a task after briefly exercising.
The study asked 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 reading comprehension and math exam and played a simple computer game. The results showed all children performed better on both tests after exercising. In the computer game, those with ADHD also were better able to slow down after making an error to avoid repeat mistakes.
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.
“This provides some very early evidence that exercise might be a tool in our nonpharmaceutical treatment of ADHD,” Matthew Pontifex, a kinesiology expert who led the study, said when the results were released. “Maybe our first course of action that we would recommend to developmental psychologists would be to increase children’s physical activity.”