Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects roughly 6.1 million, or 10% of the children in the U.S. It is a widespread neurodevelopmental disorder causing youngsters to have limited attention spans, problems controlling impulsive behaviors, and, of course, hyperactivity.
So, does exercise and camps help with ADHD? Yes, physical activity is a top non-pharmaceutical ADHD treatment, promoting dopamine release, which improves brain function. Here’s the lowdown on ADHD and excercises.
ADHD and Sports: How Does Exercise Help ADHD?
Exercise and ADHD studies indicate physical activity can act as a supplemental treatment for kids managing their symptoms with medication, therapy, and a healthy diet.
Promote Dopamine Release
The effects of exercise on ADHD kids are similar to stimulant medications like Adderall. Physical activity improves mood and cognitive performance by triggering the brain to release the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which are in short supply in those with ADHD. These neurotransmitters perform a critical role in attention and focus,
Does exercise help ADHD? Certainly! When kids exercise, more blood flows to their brains, which improves gray matter structure and a person’s ability to think. Changing the dopamine levels in the brain through exercise helps it function at an optimal level, increasing the body’s ability to regulate mood, pleasure, and pain.
Improve Executive Function
Executive brain function refers to the mental processes that enable kids to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle tasks simultaneously. Scheduling regular sports for kids in classes with ADHD strengthens coordination between the brain’s three main executive functions:
- Working memory: The ability to retain and manipulate pieces of information over short periods of time.
- Mental flexibility: The ability to sustain or shift attention in response to different demands or to apply different rules in varied contexts.
- Self-control: The ability to set priorities and resist impulsive actions and responses.
Change Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) Signaling
Regular exercise bathes the brain in a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This protein helps create new brain cells in the hippocampus, strengthens synapses, and boosts learning and memory; therefore, ADHD and physical activity are a positive combination.
Lower levels of BDNF are associated with cognitive decline, depression, and poor memory, and not just in people with ADHD. Activities that challenge balance and thinking, such as rock climbing or dancing, stimulates BDNF, resulting in:
- Improved memory and learning
- New skill acquisition
- Enhanced mood
Help Regulate Behavior and Improve Attention
A research study revealed 10 minutes of jogging three times a week reduced negative behaviors like hitting, distracting others, name-calling, and talking out of turn by 50% in kids with ADHD. While research is ongoing and evidences largely anecdotal, the effects of exercise on ADHD deliver an overall positive impact.
Exercise may be an effective supplement to medication to reduce ADHD symptoms, including impulsive outbursts and problematic behavior patterns that negatively affect social and academic development. The best sports and activities for ADHD kids who struggle to participate in organized, competitive activities include swimming, running, hiking, and cycling.
Ways to Reduce Hyperactivity in Children With ADHD
Nutritious meals, play, and exercise, as well as developing coping strategies, can curb hyperactivity.
Routine and Structure
Parents at a loss on how to calm a kid with ADHD would do well to implement structure at home. Routines provide kids with predictability and the opportunity to master tasks with greater competence. And competency improves confidence. This develops a healthy foundation for your child to learn how to structure and organize their lives as they move into adulthood.
The Harvard Health Blog posits people who eat “clean” or “whole” diets high in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, and lean meats experience better emotional health and mood. Research shows that what kids feed their bodies directly correlates to their brains’ function. A diet to reduce ADHD symptoms is rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and complex carbohydrates.
Break Up Homework with Activities
ADHD kids need strategies to manage energy levels and maintain focus when they’re learning or studying at home. Incorporating rest breaks into activities and breaking up reading or homework with brief stretches of physical exercise can help. Activities for ADHD kids like team-building classes can help.
Allow Them to Fidget
Wondering how to reduce ADHD naturally? Provide your kids with fidget objects. These stimulate a sense apart from the one required to complete the primary task at hand, which may enhance focus. A fidget object can be visual, auditory, tactile, movement-based, taste, or smell. For example, encouraging them to listen to soothing music while doing homework.
Something as simple as deep breathing can soothe children while simultaneously redirecting their focus. Fixations with anger and impulsivity are disrupted with breathing and exercise like yoga. Progressive muscle relaxation and mindfulness help kids with ADHD to become more aware of their bodies, feelings, and hyperactivity.
Improving ADHD and exercise that’s regular go hand-in-hand. Kids need to move. Playing with friends, being out in nature, and partaking in sports are relaxing, healing, and can improve brain function. Even a single 20-minute aerobic exercise session can enhance attention and impulse control in ADHD kids.
At Hot Ground Gym, we run weekly classes and holiday camps packed with the best sports and activities for ADHD. Our programs are specially designed to keep young ones between the ages 5-14 years-old fit and smart.
Contact us to arrange a free trial class for your kid.