Natural Treatments for ADD & ADHD in Kids and Adults - PART 2
As we continue our series
on ways to manage ADD and ADHD naturally, we explore the effect of physical activity on attention disorders.
According to Dr. John J. Ratey, a clinical associate professor
of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, there are many reasons for using exercise as a method of treatment for ADD and ADHD.
“Exercise almost immediately elevates dopamine and norepinephrine and keeps them up for a period of time so that it
acts like a little bit of Ritalin or Adderall. It also helps to still the impulsivity and still the cravings for immediate
A study published in the August 2008 Journal of Attention Disorders finds that for
children with ADHD, a 20-minute walk in a park may improve their ability to concentrate. Behavioral researchers Andrea Faber
Taylor and Frances E. Kuo found that exercise and a “dose of nature” may be as helpful as a dose of stimulants.
“What this particular study tells us is that the physical environment matters,” explains Faber Taylor. “We
don’t know what it is about the park, exactly – the greenness or lack of buildings – that seems to improve
attention, but….we still saw a measurable difference in children’s symptoms.” During the walks, all of
the children were un-medicated and the dose of nature had the same or better effects than a dose of medication.
So what does exercise actually do?
- Improves executive functioning abilities,
such as memory, sequencing, planning and prioritizing.
- Increases attention and focus
- Decreases hyperactivity and impulsiveness
- Increases alertness
the craving for new stimuli
- Improves mood (for example,
exercise decreases feelings of depression and anxiety)
Adding regular exercise into your daily routine can greatly affect
your overall health and well-being. Try going on family walks with the dog, biking, rollerblading, or playing active videogames
together. These are fun ways to get moving and stay focused! For children ages 4-12, at least an hour of daily, unstructured
outdoor play time is recommended. For teens and young healthy adults, 45-60 minutes of interval training (mixed cardio and
weights) 4-5 days per week is ideal for weight management. Seniors should enjoy 30 minutes of light cardio 3-5 times per week,
and light resistance training 2-3 times per week.