More Research Needed on Exercise as an ADHD Treatment
the Psychiatry Advisor take:
Results from a meta-analysis indicate that exercise improves children's cognitive function, a discovery that could have an impact on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder treatment.
The analysis of eight studies examined the effects of exercise on children’s cognitive performance and concluded that exercise is associated with improved cognition, academic achievement, behavior, and psychosocial functioning.
Although there have been literally hundreds of studies of medication treatment for ADHD, almost no research on exercise as an ADHD treatment has been conducted.
The clinical utility of the current study is limited by the brief exercise duration, i.e., examining impact after a single exercise session, and the absence of any sustained follow-up, the researchers noted.
"More rigorous trials with adequate sample sizes assessing the impact of APA on children’s cognitive abilities, psychosocial functioning, behavior, and academic achievement are needed, with standardized interventions, valid and reliable tools of measurement, and long-term follow-up for sustained cognitive and psychosocial outcomes," they wrote.
Several years ago, however, results from a longer trial of physical activity in children with ADHD were published, and the these results speak more directly to the promise of exercise as a treatment for ADHD.
Physical Exercise Can Help ADHD, But Not Enough
Results from multiple studies indicate that exercise mitigates aging-related declines in cognitive functioning and that it may enhance cognitive functioning in older adults. Exercise has also been shown to be an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression.
A study published in Preventing Chronic Diseases examined the effects of exercise on cognition, academic achievement, behavior, and psychosocial functioning outcomes in kids with ADHD.
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