According to the CDC, approximately 11% of children in the U.S. had been diagnosed with ADHD in 2011, up from 9.5% in 2007 and 7.8% in 2003. The percentage of children taking medication for the condition rose from 4.8% in 2007 to 6.1% in 2011.
Stimulants are the type of medication people with ADHD receive. These drugs are believed to have a reverse effect on people affected by the condition, slowing down their thought processes and allowing them to think before they act. The use of stimulants among children is a cause for concern; common side effects are appetite suppression, mood swings and sleep troubles. Appetite suppression can interfere with adequate nutrition and proper growth, while mood swings and sleep problems can exacerbate the social and behavioral challenges associated with ADHD.
What is more, the idea of medicating young children is problematic because it may give them the message that something is “wrong” with them, and that the only way to “fix” it is with a pill. This line of thought can transfer to other areas of young people’s lives, leading them to take passive approaches to other challenges that may arise.
Many parents are looking for alternative ADHD treatments. New research suggests that one effective way to combat many symptoms is exercise.
Researchers placed 200 young students ranging from kindergarten to second grade considered to be at high risk of ADHD into one of two treatment groups: moderate to vigorous physical activity before school and sedentary classroom activities before school. While both groups showed improvements, the exercise group showed improvements in more parameters, including getting along with others, inattentiveness and moodiness.
Exercise is important for all children, and many don’t get enough. Potential usefulness in ADHD management is all the more reason for parents to ensure their children get plenty of exercise. Ideally, schools would implement exercise programs before the school day to promote greater attention and learning ability for all students. In the meantime, parents can use this information to get their children exercising at home.
See more on the study at www.sciencedaily.com.