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Exercise before school day may reduce ADHD symptom severity

September 17, 2014

Physical activity may reduce symptom severity and moodiness and improve peer functioning among children at risk for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in the home and school domain, according to study findings in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.

Betsy Hoza, PhD, of the department of psychological science at University of Vermont, and colleagues randomly assigned 94 children considered at risk for ADHD and 108 typically developing children to participate in a physical activity or sedentary classroom intervention for 31 minutes per day, each school day, for 12 weeks. Children were aged 4 to 9 years. The physical activity intervention consisted of continuous activity that required children to breathe hard or expend energy in a moderate to vigorous range. Children in the sedentary classroom intervention engaged in classroom-based art projects while remaining sedentary. Both interventions occurred before school started each day. Parents and teachers reported ADHD symptom severity before and after intervention. They also assessed children’s moodiness and peer functioning, reporting any problematic peer behavior.

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