HealthDay News — A single bout of moderate intensity aerobic exercise may improve neurocognitive function and inhibitory control for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), study results suggest

Matthew B. Pontifex, PhD, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and colleagues examined the impact of a single bout of moderate intensity aerobic exercise using objective measures of attention, brain neurophysiology, and academic performance.

Task performance and event-related potentials were assessed for 20 children with ADHD, aged 8 to 10 years, and 20 controls who performed an attentional-control task following a bout of exercise or following seated reading during two separate, counterbalanced sessions.

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The researchers found that, for both children with ADHD and controls, following a single 20-minute bout of exercise, greater response accuracy and stimulus-related processing were observed. Compared with after a similar duration of seated reading, after exercise, the children with ADHD also exhibited selective enhancements in regulatory processes. Following exercise, both groups performed better in the areas of reading and arithmetic.

“Given that previous research has found that children with ADHD are less likely to participate in vigorous physical activity and organized sports compared with children without ADHD, our findings suggest that motivating children with ADHD to be physically active may have positive [effects] on aspects of neurocognitive function and inhibitory control,” the researchers wrote.

The findings were published online in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Pontifex MB et al. J Pediatrics. 2012; doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.08.036