Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have normal or above-normal intelligence, according to the Mental Health America. However, more times than not, 40 to 60 percent of children who are diagnosed with ADHD suffer learning difficulties. New research suggests children with ADHD may perform better in school after 20 minutes of exercise.
The study, which was published in the journal of Pediatrics, found that with just a little exercise, children with ADHD may be able to focus better and become less distracted in the classroom.
"This provides some very early evidence that exercise might be a tool in our nonpharmaceutical treatment of ADHD," said Matthew Pontifex, Michigan State University assistant professor of kinesiology, 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."
For the study, 40 children between the ages of eight to 10, who suffer from ADHD, were instructed to spend 20 minutes either walking briskly on a treadmill or reading while seated. Researchers then gave the children a brief reading comprehension and math exam. The children were also instructed to participate in a computer game where they had to ignore visual stimuli and quickly determine which direction a cartoon fish was swimming.
Researchers found all children who exercised prior to the exams, performed better on both tests. Additionally, the results from the computer game revealed children were able to focus and slow down after making a mistake to avoid any future errors.
Pontifex hopes his findings will urge for more physical activity during the school day.
"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".