DIET&FITNESS Published September8, 2014 By Staff Writer

Exercise Helps Kids with ADHD Focus better

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(Photo : US Navy- Gary Ward)

Exercise is important in enabling children to improve their academic performance and focus, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Pediatrics. Instead of the usual verbal responses from parents, caregivers and teachers (e.g. saying "sit still", "stay here"), the study found that allowing children to play and move are more helpful for them, rather than being asked to keep still.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnoses is already known to be widespread throughout the United States. Around 11 percent of children aged 4 to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD, based on the latest federal statistics.

A significant correlation has been found between attentiveness and aerobic fitness, according to past studies. However, whether aerobic fitness caused attentiveness, or attentiveness improved aerobic fitness, is unknown.

This gap in knowledge motivated researchers from the University of Illinois to discover which caused what, recruiting 40 participants: 8 to 10 year-old girls and boys. Half of the children have been diagnosed with ADHD. They were instructed to complete computerized academic and attentional tests, then asked to perform brisk walking activitities or treadmill jogging, for 20 minutes. Each physical task was followed by a recording of brain electrical activity. The kids were asked to wear caps with electrodes, and repeat the tests they took prior to the exercises.

Results were remarkably interesting for the researchers, seeing that after performing the physical exercises, all of the children displayed great improvements in their reading comprehension and math test scores. It was also interesting to discover that the children with ADHD showed an impressive increase in their scores on a test that was complicated for them in terms of level. This test involved them to focus on a single image of a cartoon fish while other images of fish were also flashed, to distract them.

According to Charlie Hillman of the University of Illinois, exercise is indeed beneficial for children, especially in dealing with attention-control problems.

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