Recent research suggests that physical activity and other healthy lifestyle choices could improve the symptoms in children diagnosed with ADHD. Study authors believe that a healthy lifestyle could be key asset in the parents’ struggles to manage their children’s ADHD.
Currently, the disorder is treated mostly with medication such as Ritalin, but few physicians advise their patients to adopt the healthy lifestyle choices that may alleviate the condition’s symptoms as well as conventional therapies.
One of the study’s most important findings was that children with ADHD tend to avoid healthy behaviors. And their lifestyle options often make their condition worse. For instance, many of them fail to get their recommended sleep time at night, while others drink caffeinated beverages on a daily basis.
Study authors also noted that ADHD patients spend more time in front of a screen than the American Academy of Paediatrics’s guidelines, which recommend only 2 hours of screen time per day. ADHD kids also tend to be sleep deprived as few of them get their daily recommended 11 hours of nighttime rest.
Furthermore, even fewer get the recommended daily intake of water, which is 7 to 10 cups every day. Instead, many of these kids get ‘hydrated’ through sugary drinks or caffeinated beverages. Experts caution that the caffeine in sodas has a diuretic effect which means that water gets removed from the body quickly.
The latest study was published this week in the Journal of Attention Disorders.
Dr. Kathleen Holton, lead researcher involved in the study, noted that no parent wants to see his or her kid with ADHD on medication. So, embracing a few simple lifestyle changes may help the kids stay off pills for long.
Dr. Holton, who is a psychologist at the American University in Washington, D.C., recommends parents to make changes gradually either “alongside or in the place of traditional ADHD medications.”
Study authors also believe that some lifestyle changes may lead to other healthy behaviors. For instance, taking up a sport or engaging in regular physical activity increases water consumption as thirst kicks in more often.
Regular exercise could also cut the number of hours spent before a computer or TV screen, experts noted. Plus, past studies had often tied exercise to a higher quality of sleep in all age groups.
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