Exercise Is ADHD Medication

New research demonstrates a critical link between exercise and academic performance. The medical journal “Pediatrics,” published research that found kids who participated in regular physical activity showed important enhancements in cognitive performance and brain function. According to University of Illinois Professor, Charles Hillman, the findings “demonstrate a causal effect of a physical program on executive control, and provide support for physical activity for improving childhood cognition and brain health.”
Another study found that a twelve week exercise program improved Math and Reading test scores in ALL kids but especially in those with signs of ADHD. A similar study published in the “Journal of Attention Disorders”(2014) found that over an eight week period, 26 minutes of daily physical activity significantly allayed ADHD symptoms in grade-school kids.
Between 2007 and 2011, the number of amphetamines and other stimulant prescriptions increased from 34.8 million to 48.4 million. The pharmaceutical market around the disorder has grown to several billion dollars (Journal of Attention Disorders). School exercise initiatives have not enjoyed the same growth.
Kids’ physical inactivity should be regarded as a pandemic and is a “serious threat to global health.” (Hillman, Pediatrics). Obese teenagers earn 18 percent less money as adults than their peers, even if they are no longer obese (Nystedt, University of Sweden). Nystedt suggests that the rapid increase in childhood and adolescent obesity could have long-lasting effects on economic growth and the productivity of nations.
John Ratey, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard, advises that people think of exercise as medication for ADHD. Even very light physical activity improves mood and cognitive performance by triggering the brain to release dopamine and serotonin, similar to the way that stimulant medications (like Adderall) work. In 2012, Ratey asserted that physical exercise is “really for our brains…it’s like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin.”
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