Physical activity has positive impacts on parental stress among parents of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to study findings published in Disability and Health Journal.
Children (N=43) with ADHD and their parents were recruited from Shenzhen Children’s Hospital in China between August and September 2020. Participants were randomly assigned to either a 12-week physical activity program (n=22; mean age, 8.51±1.54 years; 73% boys; body mass index [BMI], 16.98±3.50 kg/m2) or a waitlist (n=21; mean age, 9.09±1.27 years; 82% boys; BMI, 16.63±2.98 kg/m2). The physical activity intervention comprised 3 hour-long sessions per week. The sessions were intended to maximize the continuous level of moderate-to-vigorous activity with a target heart rate of 64% to 93% and teach different forms of motor skills. The primary outcomes were changes to quality of life measured using the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory and parental stress measured using the 15-item Parenting Stress Index–Short Form.
In the intervention group, 19 patients did not receive medication and 6 patients had psychological comorbidities. In the control group, 21 patients did not receive medication and 10 patients had psychological comorbidities.
In the primary model, significant group effects were observed favoring physical activity for school functioning (F, 7.39; P =.010), psychosocial functioning (F, 5.52; P =.025), and total quality of life (F, 4.30; P =.046). There was also a significant time effect on parental distress (F, 8.57; P =.006). Significant group-by-time interactions were observed for the difficult child subscale (F, 5.01; P =.032) and total parenting stress score (F, 5.67; P =.023).
At follow-up, parents of children who participated in the physical activity intervention reported significantly lower scores for the difficult child subscore (P =.043) and the total parenting stress score (P =.033) compared with parents of children who were placed on the waitlist.
Study limitations included the small sample sizes and the use of parental-rated quality of life instead of the children’s self-reported quality of life.
Study authors concluded, “The present study provides preliminary evidence that participation in PA intervention positively impacts on parenting stress, and with a particular influence on stress in relation to the child domain. […] This study sets the scene for future research to investigate the wide- reaching effects of PA intervention for parents and families of children with ADHD.”
Zhang Z, Li R, Zhou Z, Wang P, Yang B, Wang X. The effect of physical activity on quality of life and parenting stress in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Disabil Health J. 2022;101377. doi:10.1016/j.dhjo.2022.101377