We all know the necessity of physical exercise in the maintenance of good health. Physical activity can help children with ADHD/ADD channel their boundless energy and focus better in school or other tasks. Not all sports are appropriate for ADD/ADHD children, and not all children will like the same sport, so you might have to experiment a little bit. There are some activities that have been proven to be successful and generally enjoyed by children. The list below offers a good starting point for introducing physical activity to a child who is struggling with ADD/ADHD.
The first thing that can be done to increase the level of physical activity for your child is easy and affordable. Simply spend more active time outdoors! Spending more time in nature is a proven remedy for relieving many mental disturbances and increasing the levels of endorphins and serotonin, hormones associated with emotional well-being. Add some physical activity and reap the benefits! Children usually like to go for daily walks, visit playgrounds, ride bikes or hike on forest trails. Daily active time outside is a proven and fun way to increase your fitness level and is good for the whole family.
Swimming is a popular sport for many children and adults with physical and mental disabilities. While a great exercise which burns a lot of energy, swimming is also relaxing and soothing for the ADD/ADHD child. Many parents find that their children enjoy swimming and derive great benefits in behaviour from it. Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimmer – who has 16 career Olympic medals, 14 of them gold – has ADHD. He was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 9 years old. He used a combination of medication and behavioural therapy. After a few years, he was able to manage his ADHD without the medication.
Animals are frequently used in rehabilitation settings, so it’s no surprise that horseback riding makes this list. The presence of this powerful yet gentle animal has a positive effect on the child with ADD/ADHD and it provides a great exercise as well. The children with ADD/ADHD also enjoy the one on one instruction that horseback riding lessons allow and the lack of competitivess with peers. Children who master the skill of horseback riding emerge feeling more self-confident and improve their view of themselves as the result.
Another individual sport that might help children with ADD/ADHD is martial arts. Famous for its ability to increase concentration and focus, martial arts can be a great learning tool for children. They will learn to control their body and mind, focus their energy and respect themselves and others. All important lessons for the ADD/ADHD child!
While engaging in active outdoor play and organized activities is crucial for proper development, it is also beneficial to go a little bit beyond the basics if your child struggles with ADD/ADHD. There are several useful products on the market, such as indoor jungle gyms, therapy swings, or swing set accessories like gym rings, trapeze bar combo, rope ladder which you can install right in your home. These products can provide a useful physical break when attention wanes, such as during homework time. The best part is they are ready to be used anytime and regardless of the weather.
Just like all children, and perhaps a bit more so, children with ADD/ADHD will have days when they are eager to participate in new activities and “off” days when they will not. As a parent you know your child best and what his/her interests are. It is always better to let your child guide you in choosing a new physical activity rather than trying to force your own preferences on them. Remember, the more your child is enjoying the activity, the more likely he is to continue doing it and reaping its benefits. The most important aspect of physical activity after all is actually doing it!