An exercise program designed for children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder for use in school physical education: Feasibility and utility
Moderate to high intensity exercise can improve cognitive function and behavior in children including those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, exercise with long periods of the same activity, or inactivity can fail to engage or maintain their attention. This study examined the effect of exercise sessions developed to engage children with ADHD. Twelve children (10–11 years), six with a diagnosis of ADHD and six with no diagnosis, undertook 40-min sessions of short-duration, mixed activities bi-weekly for eleven weeks. ADHD symptoms and exercise enjoyment were recorded before six and eleven weeks of intervention. Teacher-reported data showed ADHD symptoms were significantly decreased in the children with ADHD, with a moderate to large effect size. There were no changes in the control group. All children indicated equal enjoyment of the exercise sessions. Specially designed exercise sessions stimulate and maintain engagement by children with ADHD and may reduce ADHD symptom levels in the school environment. The method that supports inclusive practice in physical education (PE) was successfully transferred to the study school and led by the usual class teacher. Children evaluated the exercises as acceptable and enjoyable for those with and without ADHD. This inclusive exercise method might help children manage ADHD symptoms.