Exercise, Inattentive ADHD Treatment

A study done at the University of Illinois several years ago showed that being outdoors "wildly improved" symptom of ADHD.  Another study published in 2002 found that "voluntary exercise can increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and other growth factors, stimulate neurogenesis, increase resistance to brain insult and improve learning and mental performance."  Playing outside has even be found to improve vision and given that there is a possible connection between ADHD and vision (please see the post of Vision Therapy), it is clear that we and our children with ADHD should be playing outside daily.

The problem is that the average child in the U.S.  is outside, on average, 7 minutes a day.  This and other statistics from the Kaiser Family Foundation are hard to believe.  The average 5 year old has spent 5000 hours in front of a screen by the time they step into kindergarten.  Seventy percent of children have no limits placed on the amount of time they can spend in front of a screen and 70% of families have the TV on during dinner.

We have more opportunities to be in front of a screen and less opportunity to be outside with each passing day.  Between TVs, Computers, Cellphones, Gameboys, Playstations, Wiis, etc.  The average child is spending between 3 and 16 hours a day in front of one screen or another.  Our opportunities for outdoor play are being limited by fewer neighborhoods with readily available playmates, greater restrictions on children playing alone outside, colder or hotter ambient temperatures, high pollution or high ozone level days, less recess and playtimes in school, and by children's insistence and preferences for playing electronic games over outdoor games.

Playing outside is good for us but we have to work at making it happen.  How do you make it happen?  You start by placing a limit on screen time.  Once you have done that, the option for outdoor play seem far more attractive.  The second step involves modeling. Parents must spend time outdoors in order to show children the benefits to be gained from being outside.  The National Wildlife Federation has just started a campaign aimed at getting families into the outdoors.  The name of the campaign is "Be Out There" and their web page can be found here:  www.nwf.org/Get-Outside/Be-Out-There.aspx

The web page outlines not only the advantages of being outdoors but also has great suggestion regarding activities.  Make a conscious effort today to limit screen time and spend more time outside.  Your brain will thank you.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there. I think we should be friends. I started a blog about the inattentive subtype several weeks ago to try and add some consistency and stability into my life. It has worked wonders for me. Anyway, I found your blog while searching to see if mine had been cached by google, and I love what you're doing here! Getting this information out there is great, and I'm gad to know I'm not the only human voice out there making this stuff known. Great work!


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