Exercise Prescription for ADD/ADHD?

So your child has ADHD or you have ADD, yes really not just because friends make fun of you.  You all know the kid who has problems in school and when he or she does not take their medications.  But what if there is something more natural and without negative side effects?  Turns out old reliable exercise can help kids and adults with ADD/ADHD manage the symptoms.  As always, consult your personal doctor for what is best, but imagine the only side effect is a stronger and healthier body!

American Professional Society of ADHD and Related Disorders

ADHD in simple language is the brain’s neurons in the attention system not communicating consistently to each other.  Sometimes the messages come across whole, sometimes they do not at all or have been partially chopped off.  A study in the Journal of Attention Disorders showed that doing moderate to vigorous intensity exercise forty-five minutes a day, three times a week, for ten weeks improved cognitive function and behavior in children with ADHD. The reasoning behind this improvement is that exercise can help the growth of new nerve cells. Children are constantly developing physically and mentally, which are times when neuroplasticity is also at its height.  Learning new functions requires the brain to build new neural pathways which can help the lapses in the attention system improve.

Does a child need to run a marathon, play soccer, or weight lift?  Dr. Michael Lara suggests challenging activities like martial arts, rock climbing, and ice skating are better than just aerobic exercise.  The complex movements activate various areas in the brain associated with balance & stability, endurance, and coordination.  Have you ever stood on one leg and reached down to touch your toes?  Easy at is sounds, many people fall over doing it.  The ADHD brain has a need for structure, variety, incorporating new skills, and a way to measure results.  Talk to a professional and determine what activities make sense for your child’s age and development level.  In some cases, medications have become more effective with exercise and/or replaced based on a doctor’s approval.

 

Check out www.movementacademy.net and their web based program that may help your child improve.  Contact Matt Peale at mpeale@ltmacademy.com for any questions.  Remember, exercise has so many more benefits than physical and costs generally nothing.  Give it a try!

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Too Specialized too Soon

Spending thousands of dollars on a single sport for a child only to see that child get burned out in 3 years, is that a quality time and financial investment?  Unfortunately a large percentage of parents all around the United States have bought in hook, line, and sinker into this horrendous brainwashing.  The Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine has seen the surgical curve for overuse injuries drop from 18-20 year olds, to 12-14 year olds.  Why is this happening?  Because kids are being wrongfully told they have to compete in one sport only from the age of 6-8 and up.

When we are talking about long term athletic development, sports specialization does not occur until after puberty.  Children are still learning fundamental movement skills to achieve basic strength, balance, and stability.  Not to mention their mental capacity to focus on more intense competition is also still being developed.  Youth sports has become a big business and has lost its focus on creating a well rounded, athletic child.  The importance to win now and forfeit learning has become ingrained way to early in a child’s life.

What can parents do to reduce this one sport win now pressure?  Sign your child up for multiple sports while they are young and let them decide what they enjoy.  All of the top professional athletes played a variety of sports growing up.  It was not until they reached junior high or high school they began to specialize more, and even then they starred in multiple sports.  Do not let the pressure of coaches who want to line their pockets be the deciding influence on your 9 year old.  Registering them for exercise classes at your gym/health club is another great way to show them alternative healthy activities for those not interested in specific sports.  Learn To Move Academy is developing a system for individuals to purchase so children learn these fundamental movements at home.  Finally make sure they have fun.  Learning winning and losing is important and not everyone is a champion for the season, but having fun in the process is vital to returning for more seasons.

 

Matt Peale is an NASM certified personal trainer since 2008 and works with youth both as a trainer and partner in Learn To Move Academy.  Email Matt at mpeale@ltmacademy.com with any questions and comments.