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Exercise Before School Can Ward Off ADHD Symptoms, Study Finds

Want to help improve the focus of a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder? Try some jumping jacks before class. 

That's the main finding of researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Vermont who examined 200 kindergarten, 1st and 2nd-graders, about half of whom were deemed to be at risk of developing ADHD. Students were randomly placed in two groups: one group participated in 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise before the school day, while the other group engaged in more sedentary activities. 

Over the 12 weeks that the children were studied, those who were exercising before school saw benefits across a broader range of outcomes than children who were spending time doing low-key activities. 

In a statement, Alan Smith, the chairman of Michigan State's kinesiology department, said that questions still need to be answered, including the frequency and amount of exercise needed to show effects.  But "physical activity appears to be a promising intervention method for ADHD with well-known benefits to health overall," he said. Smith conducted the research along with lead author Betsy Hoza, a professor of psychological science at the University of Vermont.

"This gives schools one more good reason to incorporate physical activity into the school day," Smith said. 

The study was published in the September edition of the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. 


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