A recent article in the New York Times Magazine cites a study conducted at the University of Illinois to examine the effects of exercise on a child’s ability to focus. The study compared the effects of reading quietly for 20 minutes vs. walking or jogging on a treadmill for 20 minutes. The study also compared children diagnosed with ADHD and children without that diagnosis. The results clearly supported the notion that exercise can improve focus for children, with or without ADHD. A particularly striking result was that the children with ADHD were able to significantly increase their ability to focus during more complicated concentration exercises.
The authors of the study indicated that the exercises involved do not have to be complicated or involve expensive equipment. The suggestion to have children march in place, hop up and down, take a brief walk, or engage in a similar exercise activity for even a few minutes could be beneficial. The question of how and why this might work requires further study, but one hypothesis is that frontal lobe activity increases when we exercise, which might help increase concentration.
This all makes intuitive sense to me, given that the usual recommendation for ADHD kids is to do homework for relatively brief spans of time with frequent breaks. Plus there is the bonus of getting our kids more active, combating the obesity problem. So why not give this a try at home and send us a comment describing what happened and whether this was a thumbs up or thumbs down?