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What Can I Do To Support My Child With ADHD Besides Medicine? 

exercise is an alternative to medicine

Parents often express concerns about the medications prescribed for ADHD. While research supports the benefits of these medications, it's essential to respect each family's choice. Many parents worry about potential side effects such as changes in hunger, appetite, sleep, and mood. These concerns are valid, and some of these side effects can indeed occur. However, a natural alternative exists that can significantly benefit children with ADHD: exercise. As many parents are hesitant to put their child on medicine, understanding the natural benefits of exercise can help alleviate some of those concerns.

This post draws heavily from the book Spark by John Ratey, a must read for parents of those with neurodivergent needs. 

The Science Behind Exercise and ADHD

ADHD coaching can vary, but a holistic approach that includes brain hygiene is highly beneficial. Exercise plays a crucial role in this approach due to its profound impact on the brain. Research from the 1970s demonstrated that exercise significantly alleviates symptoms of depression, and this finding extends to ADHD as well.

Exercise benefits the executive functioning skills that are often weak in individuals with ADHD. Movement stimulates the prefrontal cortex (PFC), the part of the brain responsible for executive functions such as attention, planning, and decision-making. Activating the PFC through exercise strengthens it, leading to improved focus and cognitive function. Additionally, exercise releases endorphins, which boost mood and overall well-being.

Integrating Exercise into Daily Routines

Supporting students in developing the habit of regular exercise can be achieved by integrating physical activity into their daily routines. For example, educational therapists often incorporate movement into therapy sessions by using trampolines or balls, as this stimulates both physical and mental activity. At home, encouraging children to exercise for 15 minutes before starting homework can help them focus and perform better academically.

Schools are beginning to recognize the benefits of exercise as well. In some countries, schools have adapted their schedules to include 15 minutes of playtime on the playground before classes begin. This simple change has been shown to help students concentrate better once they are in the classroom.

The Brain-Boosting Power of Exercise

Exercise doesn't just enhance executive functioning skills; it also promotes the release of several important neurotransmitters and hormones. One such hormone is Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), often referred to as a "fertilizer" for brain cells. BDNF supports the growth and development of new neurons, leading to a healthier and more resilient brain.

Incorporating regular exercise into a child's routine can help develop better executive functioning skills, improve mood, and support overall brain health. This natural approach can effectively complement other ADHD treatments and provide long-term benefits for a child's well-being.

Ready to Learn More?

WeThrive Learning is dedicated to supporting families with comprehensive, science-backed strategies for managing ADHD. To explore how exercise and other holistic approaches can benefit children, book a free consultation with WeThrive Learning. The team of experts is ready to help navigate the best options for each child's unique needs. 

Discover how WeThrive Learning can support a child's journey with ADHD. Book a free consultation today!

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