Exercise and Inattentive ADHD

If you are not exercising on a regular basis, you need to stop reading this RIGHT NOW and go outside and briskly walk for 20 minutes. Take your kids with you.

In my opinion, exercise is even MORE important than diet and medications in managing the symptoms of Inattentive ADHD. There is really strong research evidence that kids and adults who get little exercise have greater problems with inattention, impulsiveness, and irritability. I walk 3-4 miles a day and I feel it is the single most important thing that I do for my health and state of mind.

There is really compelling health science behind the positive effects of exercise and brain processing. As little as 20 minutes of heart rate elevating physical activity raises the level of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin in our brains. Low levels or serotonin are known to cause irritability and depression. Low levels of dopamine are thought to cause hyperactivity and impulsivity, and low levels of norepinephrine are thought to cause inattention.  All of the catecholamines are known to play a part in Inattentive ADHD.

Why schools would limit the amount of time that kids go to the playground is way beyond me!! A recent study of school aged kids revealed that inactive boys and girls were more likely to have attention problems than their active peers. It would seem to me that schools would WANT the kids to go outside.

At my children's school, the kids are outside playing for at least 80 minutes a day. The really small kids get even more time. The school administrators know that exercise makes kids better students. They know that kids, after exercise, are more awake, more focuses, more motivated, less squirmy and less prone to frustration.

We know that exercise wards off the aging of the brain by increasing the number of neurons in the brain. We used to think that the brain stopped making Neurons as we aged but now we know that this is not so. Making new neurons is especially important to the growing brains or our children and this may be especially important in people and children with Inattentive ADHD.

So make sure that you and your kids are getting a lot of physical activity. If you didn't go out and walk when I asked you to before. Please go now. On the second thought, even if you went before. Why not go again. It's really good for you!!

1 comment:

  1. As a parent to a special needs child, I know that my daily exercise whether walking or swimming really saves my sanity.
    Even more so for my daughter who needs to release her pent up frustrations in an active way. But my point is to suggest taking this a stage further. Encourage your child to combine exercise with a sense of belonging to an inclusive community. My daughter has developed her swimming to the extent that she is now on the YMCA swim team and is proud to belong to a group that accepts her and helps her direct her energy in a positive direction.


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