Let’s hear it for jumping jacks and somersaults! Exercise is a terrific way to activate the brain. We recommend that, before kids sit down to do homework, they do pushups, shoot hoops, run around the yard — do something to get the body moving and the brain going. They’ll be more engaged in their schoolwork – and more fit, as well.
Exercise is critical for another reason: a lot of kids on ADHD medications experience changes in appetite, which can lead to weight gain. But I question whether this is any different from the larger obesity issue in our society. My hunch is that it’s not as much about ADHD as it is about the world we live in – a world filled with television screens, computers, iPhones, and tablets. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids 8-18 spend 7.5 hours a day in front of a screen. No wonder they “don’t have time” for chores!
Every kid – and every adult – needs physical activity. The best way to ensure your child gets it is to get it yourself. If your family sees you modeling couch potato behavior or making excuses (“I’m too busy,” “I’ll start tomorrow.”), that’s what they’ll follow. But if they see you hopping on your bike, hitting the gym, or dancing around the house, that’s the culture they’ll step into. Activity is for everyone: ADHD, typical, child, parent – and its benefits are equally powerful to all.
Exercise is important for all of us – especially ADHD kids. Be a positive role model and insist that kids get some sort of activity in, particularly before difficult tasks like homework or studying. With the obesity epidemic in North America firmly entrenched, we parents have to do everything we can to keep our families healthy. And that starts with a little less Nintendo, and a little more whole body movement.