Hey y'all, it’s been quite some time since my last blog. No excuse but it has been a busy few weeks for my family and I, my in-laws visited us from California (not the typical dreaded In-law visit, they are awesome) and we had a great time! Also, I finally got settled in what I’m calling “The Eagles Nest,” so I am super pumped about that. I’ve had a vison my whole life and thanks to some hard work and good friends it’s starting to become a reality. So that is what’s been going on in my life, if you want to chit chat about your past few weeks feel free to email me and we can catch up. So, this week on The Peoples Blog I will be answering a question by one of my long-time clients; does exercise assist in the treatment of ADHD? Now I know what you’re thinking, how will reading this help me?
If you’re a parent, which I am sure many of you are then you can relate to the concern this parent expresses. I know as a parent myself I would do anything to help my child if he had any issues going on. This excerpt is meant to educate those of us parents who are curious as to using exercise to help symptoms of ADHD.
First off, ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactive disorder. In short ADHD is very common, in fact it effects more than 3 million Americans per year, it is basically the inability to be fully attentive, to be hyperactive (unusually active), and struggle with controlling impulses. ADHD is caused by chemical, structural, and connectivity issues in the brain, most of these are genetic. Chemically the dopamine activity related to reward and consequence is different and according to scientists “problematic” in the brains of those with ADHD. Structurally certain areas of the brain have different volumes then the normal brain and are structured differently, activity levels differ within the brain as well as the brain metabolism being different than that of the average. Communication in the brain is poor within the DMN (Default Mode Network).
Now we are acquainted with what ADHD is and how it works, so how can exercise help to treat this?
It is understood ADHD is a direct result of deficient neural networks, it is also understood that neurodevelopment can be affected positively through cognitive stimulation. Now this is where exercise will come in handy. Cognitive skill stimulation is anything that requires you to use your brain for remembering, concentrating, process thoughts, learning, etc. The stimulation of these skills can promote brain growth which can directly lead to the development of long lasting treatments for this disorder.
So, stimulating the brain and cognitive skills will help promote brain growth. When performing physical activity’s such as sports or weight training your mind is constantly learning. New movements, what works for you, how your body feels after performing these movements, sport specific technique, small tweaks to form/performance are a few examples of things learned while performing sports/weight training. When performing movements for sports/weights you are also constantly concentrating on the movements while performing them, this concentration is required to prevent injury as well as ensuring you are doing the techniques properly. Lastly you are multi-tasking, remembering, and processing thoughts while counting the reps and doing the movements at the same time. When added to a proprioceptive environment you are also engaging more concentration for fear of losing your balance.
Exercise requires a lot of your cognitive skills, they are constantly being worked even when not performing movements, you are constantly thinking of what is next. This stimulation when done on a normal basis like most workout and sports program stimulate the brain multiple times during the week for prolonged durations of time. This stimulation is an amount that can cause the brain growth needed to develop enduring treatments for ADHD.
To further back these claims, a study was done involving children with ADHD whom were taking medicine to treat ADHD, the kids were broken into 2 groups, one took the medication and the others were treated with physical activity. At the conclusion of the study, scientists found physical activity can help reduce the adverse effects of ADHD. It is also noted that while these findings showed the physical activity to reduce effects of ADHD, research and further studies must be conducted to CONFIRM exercise minimizes the harmful effects of this disorder. Science is funny like that, you can prove something but nothing is a “fact” until you can prove it over and over, and over, and over.
Lastly a study done on the learning abilities of children with ADHD also proved a 20-minute bout of moderately intense exercise increased response accuracy and stimulus related processing. After continued tests following the bouts of exercise the children also exhibited enhanced regulatory processing, and a significantly greater performance in reading and arithmetic. When compared to 20 minutes of reading to stimulate the brain the children all showed higher attentiveness, alertness, and control after the 20-minute exercise bout.
To conclude, ADHD is not curable but the use of exercise will assist in brain growth and in the brains development to suppress the effects of ADHD as well as to help to create an enduring treatment (long lasting, not cured) for this disorder. I note that scientists still do not fully back this claim and doctor prescribed medication should still be taken as prescribed. From the science of how ADHD works it is inferred that exercise can contribute to treating the underlying causes.
From a personal point of view, I have trouble getting started on my blogs, writing client programs, and reading articles, when I find myself having these issues I go for a light jog or do stretches, nothing too intense but enough for me to break a sweat and get my brain in tune and ready to work. Now I may not have ADHD but my closest friends would describe me as scatterbrained, exercise always helps to get me focused as well as clearing my mind.
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