Exercise Helps Improve ADHD Symptoms

Exercise Helps Improve ADHD Symptoms

Many people have known for a long time that exercise has many positive benefits; it makes us more fit, evens temperament, and can even make us feel happy.  These effects on the brain also suggest that increased activity and exercise can help improve ADHD symptoms, including impaired cognition and memory.

Dartmouth researchers have suggested through a series of studies that increased exercise can be an alternative treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.  Through the studies, researchers wanted to know if exercise had an impact on cognitive abilities as well as improving mood changes within the brain.

After hearing reports that children with ADHD who attended a summer camp had improved their response to behavioral interventions, researchers decided to make ADHD and exercise a focus of new research.  Researchers found that exercise helped improved object memory in rats with ADHD-like behavior; object memory is the kind not related to context or events.  The ADHD-like behavior in these rats was also reduced after exercise.

Further studies showed that exercise helped improve memory through the brain derived neurtropic factor, or BDNF protein, which takes part in brain growth and development.  Researchers also took a look at human trials, and studies showed that undergrads who began to exercise regularly had improved memory functioning.  This study, published in Neuroscience, did show a genetic link to the exercise benefit.  In some people, methionine is substituted for valine at the 66th amino acid position in the genetic code; those subjects who had some substitution did not receive as much benefit from exercise.

From this research, doctors can look at a child’s genotype to discover if he might respond to exercise as treatment.  More research in this area might also lead to more natural therapies and alternative treatments instead of medications most often prescribed for ADHD.

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Written by: Candice Evans See other articles by Candice Evans
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