Can Exercise Help Children with ADHD?

Ryan and MBC Running

Ryan and I running in a Mother’s Day race a couple of years ago.

It’s 6 am. It’s so dark outside that one would think it’s the middle of the night. But Ryan and I are getting up to make our daily trek to the gym. I often think, why? Ryan and I both go to the gym after work and the two mornings he doesn’t work he goes to the gym. Do we really need all this physical activity?

Yes! “Exercise helps children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) according to a study,” in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal. This recent study found that children with symptoms of ADHD became more attentive and less moody when they participated in regular half hour sessions of aerobic activity before school.  Physical activity can improve academic achievement including grades and standardized test scores. Unfortunately, physical education classes in many schools have been replaced by sedentary classroom based activities. This needs to change.

Ryan running in last week's Beast on the Bay Adaptive Course.

Ryan running in last week’s Beast on the Bay Adaptive Course.

We are initiating three new fitness programs in our school this year. Our adaptive bicycling program is now the responsibility of our PT/ OT department. Therapists are assuring that each student has an outcome based program tailored to the students’ strengths and needs. They are monitoring and tracking the students’ progress using the “Day to Data” app on the iPad.

Our fitness program has been modified to focus on fitness as a life skill. We will be addressing three primary areas of wellness: cardiovascular exercise, strengthen and balance. The students engagement in their fitness program will be measured by charting participation and using a modified Perceived Exertion Scale to rate how hard they work.

Ryan kayaking over the summer months in Erie.

Ryan kayaking over the summer months in Erie.

We are also introducing Achilles International Run to Learn program, a series of educational and physical activities which will encourage and motivate students to participate in regular physical activities. Based on a 26.2 mile marathon, students will complete weekly laps that are counted and converted into miles and charted as a 26.2 mile route on a map of Erie, PA. Achilles Kids: Run to Learn is currently in 150 schools in the United States with approximately 3,500 students participating.

On a personal note, I, too, have seen many positive behavioral changes when Ryan engages in intense physical activities. He is very focused, stays on target during conversations, and engages in significantly less repetitive behaviors. So, you can be sure that Ryan and I will continue our six am treks to the gym in good weather and bad!

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