Kids with ADHD may benefit from a morning exercise routine prior to school. According to a new study, daily before-school aerobic activities helped calm attention deficit problems in at-risk schoolchildren both in the classroom and at home.
"Early studies suggest that physical activity can have a positive effect on children who suffer from ADHD," said researcher Alan Smith, chairperson of Michigan State University's Department of Kinesiology.
Along with Betsy Hoza, lead author of the new study and a psychologist at the University of Vermont, Smith observed more than 200 elementary school students in kindergarten, first grade and second grade. Over a 12-week period, students were randomly selected to participate in moderate to vigorous physical activity each day before school; a control group was tasked with more sedentary, indoor activities.
Hoza and Smith found that all children, regardless of ADHD tendencies, benefited from before-school exercise. But children previously diagnosed with ADHD or exhibiting ADHD symptoms benefited the most from morning aerobics.
"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 says more research is needed to hone in on exactly how much and how often is necessary for the exercise to achieve the most effective results.
The study was published this week in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.