Exercises to improve attention, working memory and executive function

Everyone knows exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.  But did you know that exercise can be especially important for people with ADHD?  Exercise can improve attention, Family Bikingworking memory and executive function. 

Play Attention is sponsoring Additude Magazine’s special webinar, The Exercise Rx for ADHD, with John J. Ratey, M.D.

Click here to register and learn the effect of exercise on ADHD.

The 2018 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth states that regular exercise can help creativity and social functioning in ADHD and Autistic children. Even a small burst of exercise before a test can produce stronger brain function.

However, the report states, “Only 35% of 5- to 17- year-olds are reaching their recommended physical activity levels.  On average, kids are still sitting too much and moving too little to reach their full potential.”

Fitting exercise into the day can be a challenge, especially for families who need to spend extra time helping a child with ADHD or special needs. However, there are ways to get exercise without even knowing it and you can have some fun!

Here are 10 tips for sneaking physical activity into your child’s day:

  1. Go the distance. When you are running errands, park farther away in the parking lot, choose to take the stairs instead of the elevator, or get off the subway one stop earlier so you can walk the extra distance. Every little bit counts!
  2. Playtime with Fido. Encourage your child to spend quality time with the family dog. Suggest they play fetch, throw a frisbee, or take the dog for a walk (or a run!). Your pets need to expel energy too so it’s a win-win.
  3. Keep a clean house. Assign household chores that require lots of movement like vacuuming, dusting, yard work, etc. Reward your child for extra chores like washing your car by hand.
  4. Family game night. Play an active video game as a family so you can keep them on track and get a little competition going for motivation.
  5. Bowl away. Have a bowling night and include some friends. This sport burns calories, strengthens muscles, improves balance, and works on hand-eye coordination.
  6. Roller disco. This is another fun activity where you can get friends involved and work on balance and coordination. Skating also improves core strength and lower back muscles.
  7. Let’s dance. Get your child signed up for a dance class or have a dance out at home to have some fun. Dancing can reduce stress along with improving cardiovascular health.
  8. Get down to the water. During warm weather, get your child to a pool or lake for swimming and water sports. There are so many water sports to choose from!
  9. Bounce. Get a trampoline for your child. It encourages outdoor time while improving balance and stamina.
  10. Practice martial arts. Martial arts can improve focus and mindfulness. 

Moderate exercise is typically safe for most individuals, but health experts recommend a consultation with your health care provider before starting a new physical activity.

If your child struggles with motor skills and hand-eye coordination, Play Attention has two activities just for improving these areas while also practicing mindfulness. By integrating feedback technology with fun computer-based activities, students can learn to use their power of attention to control their mind and bodies!