Tag Archives: Exercise

University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign study: ADHD kids may benefit with FITKids exercise intervention

21 Oct

Moi wrote in ADHD coaching to improve a child’s education outcome:
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry discusses the primary symptoms of ADHD in the article, What Is ADHD:

The primary symptoms of ADHD are hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention.
Hyperactive children always seem to be in motion. A child who is hyperactive may move around touching or playing with whatever is around, or talk continually. During story time or school lessons, the child might squirm around, fidget, or get up and move around the room. Some children wiggle their feet or tap their fingers. A teenager or adult who is hyperactive may feel restless and need to stay busy all the time.
Impulsive children often blurt out comments without thinking first. They may often display their emotions without restraint. They may also fail to consider the consequences of their actions. Such children may find it hard to wait in line or take turns. Impulsive teenagers and adults tend to make choices that have a small immediate payoff rather than working toward larger delayed rewards….

ADHD News has a synopsis of the ADHD news     http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/categories/adhd


Julia Lawrence of Education News reported about a Quebec study in the article, Study: ADHD Drugs Don’t Improve Academic Performance in Kids:

Shirley S. Wang of The Wall Street Journal writes about one such study published in June which looked at academic outcomes of Quebec students prescribed ADHD drugs like Ritalin and Adderall over a span of 11 years. Researchers concluded that boys who were taking drugs academically underperformed peers with the same symptoms who were not medicated. The working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research also reported that girls who took ADHD drugs had higher incidence of emotional problems than ones who did not.

“The possibility that [medication] won’t help them [in school] needs to be acknowledged and needs to be closely monitored,” says economics professor Janet Currie, an author on the paper and director of the Center for Health & Wellbeing, a health policy institute at Princeton University. Kids may not get the right dose to see sustained benefits, or they may stop taking the medication because side effects or other drawbacks outweigh the benefits, she says.

Why drugs that claim to improve concentration, focus and emotional control don’t lead to academic improvement is a question that has puzzled researchers for some time — and answering the question could be the key to effective ADHD treatment in children. Finding an effective treatment regime could help a lot of kids; according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 2.7 million children currently on ADHD drugs of some kind in the United States alone.


This study is in accord with research from Yale University.

Geneva Pittman of Reuters wrote in the article, Be cautious of mind-altering drugs for kids: doctors:

Focusing on stimulants typically used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, researchers said the number of diagnoses and prescriptions have risen dramatically over the past two decades.

Young people with the disorder clearly benefit from treatment, lead author Dr. William Graf emphasized, but the medicines are increasingly being used by healthy youth who believe they will enhance their concentration and performance in school.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1.7 percent of eighth graders and 7.6 percent of 12th graders have used Adderall, a stimulant, for nonmedical reasons.
Some of those misused medicines are bought on the street or from peers with prescriptions; others may be obtained legally from doctors.

“What we’re saying is that because of the volume of drugs and the incredible increase… the possibility of overdiagnosis and overtreatment is clearly there,” said Graf, from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

In their statement, published in the journal Neurology, he and his colleagues say doctors should not give prescriptions to teens who ask for medication to enhance concentration against their parents’ advice. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/13/us-medications-kids-idUSBRE92C17H20130313

A University of Illinois study indicates that exercise might be an effective therapy.

James Hamlin wrote in the Atlantic article: Exercise Is ADHD Medication:

Physical movement improves mental focus, memory, and cognitive flexibility; new research shows just how critical it is to academic performance.

Mental exercises to build (or rebuild) attention span have shown promise recently as adjuncts or alternatives to amphetamines in addressing symptoms common to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Building cognitive control, to be better able to focus on just one thing, or single-task, might involve regular practice with a specialized video game that reinforces “top-down” cognitive modulation, as was the case in a popular paper in Nature last year. Cool but still notional. More insipid but also more clearly critical to addressing what’s being called the ADHD epidemic is plain old physical activity.

This morning the medical journal Pediatrics published research that found kids who took part in a regular physical activity program showed important enhancement of cognitive performance and brain function. The findings, according to University of Illinois professor Charles Hillman and colleagues, “demonstrate a causal effect of a physical program on executive control, and provide support for physical activity for improving childhood cognition and brain health.” If it seems odd that this is something that still needs support, that’s because it is odd, yes. Physical activity is clearly a high, high-yield investment for all kids, but especially those attentive or hyperactive. This brand of research is still published and written about as though it were a novel finding, in part because exercise programs for kids remain underfunded and underprioritized in many school curricula, even though exercise is clearly integral to maximizing the utility of time spent in class…..                                                                                                                       http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/09/exercise-seems-to-be-beneficial-to-children/380844/?single_page=true


Effects of the FITKids Randomized Controlled Trial on Executive Control and Brain Function

  1. Charles H. Hillman, PhDa,
  2. Matthew B. Pontifex, PhDb,
  3. Darla M. Castelli, PhDc,
  4. Naiman A. Khan, PhD, RDa,
  5. Lauren B. Raine, BSa,
  6. Mark R. Scudder, BSa,
  7. Eric S. Drollette, BSa,
  8. Robert D. Moore, MSa,
  9. Chien-Ting Wu, PhDd, and
  10. Keita Kamijo, PhDe

+ Author Affiliations

1.     aDepartment of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois; 2.     bDepartment of Kinesiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; 3.     cDepartment of Kinesiology and Health Education, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas; 4.     dDepartment of Exercise Science, Schreiner College, Kerrville, Texas; and 5.     eSchool of Sport Sciences, Waseda University, Tokorozawa, Saitama, Japan


OBJECTIVE: To assess the effect of a physical activity (PA) intervention on brain and behavioral indices of executive control in preadolescent children.

METHODS: Two hundred twenty-one children (7–9 years) were randomly assigned to a 9-month afterschool PA program or a wait-list control. In addition to changes in fitness (maximal oxygen consumption), electrical activity in the brain (P3-ERP) and behavioral measures (accuracy, reaction time) of executive control were collected by using tasks that modulated attentional inhibition and cognitive flexibility.

RESULTS: Fitness improved more among intervention participants from pretest to posttest compared with the wait-list control (1.3 mL/kg per minute, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.3 to 2.4; d = 0.34 for group difference in pre-to-post change score). Intervention participants exhibited greater improvements from pretest to posttest in inhibition (3.2%, 95% CI: 0.0 to 6.5; d = 0.27) and cognitive flexibility (4.8%, 95% CI: 1.1 to 8.4; d = 0.35 for group difference in pre-to-post change score) compared with control. Only the intervention group increased attentional resources from pretest to posttest during tasks requiring increased inhibition (1.4 µV, 95% CI: 0.3 to 2.6; d = 0.34) and cognitive flexibility (1.5 µV, 95% CI: 0.6 to 2.5; d = 0.43). Finally, improvements in brain function on the inhibition task (r = 0.22) and performance on the flexibility task correlated with intervention attendance (r = 0.24).

CONCLUSIONS: The intervention enhanced cognitive performance and brain function during tasks requiring greater executive control. These findings demonstrate a causal effect of a PA program on executive control, and provide support for PA for improving childhood cognition and brain health.

Key Words:

  • Accepted July 25, 2014.

After-school exercise program enhances cognition in 7-, 8- and 9-year-olds

Date:         September 29, 2014

Source:           University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


A nine-month-long, randomized controlled trial involving 221 prepubescent children found that those who engaged in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for at least 60 minutes a day after school saw substantial improvements in their ability to pay attention, avoid distraction and switch between cognitive tasks, researchers report.

Here is the press report from the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign:

After-school exercise program enhances cognition in 7-, 8- and 9-year-olds

Email Share

9/29/2014 | Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor | 217-333-5802; diya@illinois.edu

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A nine-month-long, randomized controlled trial involving 221 prepubescent children found that those who engaged in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for at least 60 minutes a day after school saw substantial improvements in their ability to pay attention, avoid distraction and switch between cognitive tasks, researchers report in the journal Pediatrics.

Fitness, cognitive function and brain function improved in children in the FITKids exercise intervention group, researchers report. | Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Half of the study subjects were randomly assigned to the after-school program and the rest were placed on a wait list. All participants underwent cognitive testing and brain imaging before and after the intervention.

“Those in the exercise group received a structured intervention that was designed for the way kids like to move,” said University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Charles Hillman, who led the study. “They performed short bouts of exercise interspersed with rest over a two-hour period.”

The intervention, called FITKids, was based on the CATCH exercise program, a research-based health promotion initiative that was initially funded by the National Institutes of Health and now is used by schools and health departments across the U.S.

The children in the FITKids exercise group wore heart-rate monitors and pedometers during the intervention.

“On average, kids’ heart rates corresponded with a moderate-to-vigorous level of exercise intensity, and they averaged about 4,500 steps during the two-hour intervention,” Hillman said. The children were active about 70 minutes per day.

As expected, fitness increased most in the intervention group over the course of the study.

“We saw about a six percent increase in fitness in children in the FITKids intervention group,” Hillman said. Fitness improved less than one percent in the wait-list control group, he said.

Children in the exercise group also demonstrated substantial increases in “attentional inhibition,” a measure of their ability to block out distractions and focus on the task at hand. And they improved in “cognitive flexibility,” which involves switching between intellectual tasks while maintaining speed and accuracy. Children in the wait-list control group saw minimal improvements in these measures, in line with what would be expected as a result of normal maturation over the nine months, Hillman said.

“Kids in the intervention group improved two-fold compared to the wait-list kids in terms of their accuracy on cognitive tasks,” he said. “And we found widespread changes in brain function, which relate to the allocation of attention during cognitive tasks and cognitive processing speed. These changes were significantly greater than those exhibited by the wait-list kids.

“Interestingly, the improvements observed in the FITKids intervention were correlated with their attendance rate, such that greater attendance was related to greater change in brain function and cognitive performance,” Hillman said.

The study did not distinguish improvements that were the result of increased fitness from those that might stem from the social interactions, stimulation and engagement the children in the intervention group experienced, Hillman said.

“Other research at Georgia Regents University led by Catherine Davis has actually used social and game-playing as their control group, and showed that the cognitive effects of their physical activity intervention are above-and-beyond those that are gained just through social interactions,” he said.

The FITKids program is designed to get children socially engaged in exercise, which is part of what makes it an effective intervention, Hillman said.

“The fact is that kids are social beings; they perform physical activity in a social environment,” he said. “A big reason why kids participate in a structured sports environment is because they find it fun and they make new friends. And this intervention was designed to meet those needs as well.”

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health funded this research.

Editor’s note: To reach Charles Hillman, call 217-244-2663; email chhillma@illinois.edu.

The paper, “Effects of the FITKids Randomized Controlled Trial on Executive Control and Brain Function,” is available online or from the U. of I. News Bureau.

Physically fit children are not only healthier, but are better able to perform better in school. Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

Reference Links:

Edge Foundation ADHD Coaching Study Executive Summary


Edge Foundation ADHD Coaching Study Full Report


ADHD and College Success: A free guide


ADHD and ExecutiveFunctioning


Executive Function, ADHD and Academic Outcomes


Louisiana study: Fit children score higher on standardized tests


If you suspect that your child might have ADHD, you should seek an evaluation from a competent professional who has knowledge of this specialized area of medical practice.


Studies: ADHD drugs don’t necessarily improve academic performance


ADHD coaching to improve a child’s education outcome


An ADHD related disorder: ‘Sluggish Cognitive Tempo’


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Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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Artic University of Norway study: Too much screen time can cause osteoporosis in boys

9 Apr

Play is important for children and outside play is particularly important. Kids Discover Nature has some excellent resources about outside play. In the post, 10 Reasons Why Kids Should Play Outside reasons for outside play are given.

1. K-12 students participating in environmental education programs at school do better on standardized tests in math, reading, writing and social studies.
Abrams, K.S. (1999). Summary of project outcomes from Environmental Education and Sunshine State Standards schools’ final report data. Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books. (p. 206) Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books. (p. 206)
2. Children and adults find it easier to concentrate and pay attention after spending time in nature.
Wells, N.M. (2000). At home with nature: Effects of “greenness” on children’s cognitive functioning. Environment and Behavior 32: 775-795.
Hartig, T., Mang, M., & Evans, G.W. (1991). Restorative effects of natural environment experiences. Environment and Behavior 23: 3-26.
3. Nature provides a rich source of hands-on, multi-sensory stimulation, which is critical for brain development in early childhood.
Rivkin, M.S. Natural Learning.
4. Children’s play is more creative and egalitarian in natural areas than in more structured or paved areas.
Faber Taylor, A., Wiley, A., Kuo, F.E. & Sullivan, W.C. (1998). Growing up in the inner city: Green spaces as places to grow. Environment and Behavior 30(1): 3-27.
5. Living in “high nature conditions” buffers children against the effects of stressful life events.
Wells, N. & Evans, G. (2003). Nearby nature: A buffer of life stress among rural children. Environment and Behavior 35: 311-330.
Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books.
6. Views of nature reduce stress levels and speed recovery from illness, injury or stressful experiences.
Frumkin, H. (2001). Beyond toxicity: Human health and the natural environment. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 20(3): 234-240.
Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books.
7. The ultimate raw material for much of human intellect, emotion, personality, industry, and spirit is rooted in a healthy, accessible, and abundant natural environment.
Kellert, Stephen R. (2005). Building for Life: Designing and Developing the Human-Nature Connection.Washington: Island Press.
8. Access to nature nurtures self discipline.
Source: Faber Taylor, A., Kuo, F.E., & Sullivan, W.C. (2002). Views of Nature and Self-Discipline: Evidence from Inner City Children. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 22, 49-63.
9. Nearby Nature Boosts Children’s Cognitive functioning.
Source: Wells, N.M. At Home with Nature: Effects of “Greenness” on Children’s Cognitive Functioning. Environment and Behavior. Vol. 32, No. 6, 775-795.
10. Children diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention-deficit disorder (ADD) showed reduce symptoms after playing in natural areas.
Kuo, F.E. & Faber Taylor, A. (2004). A potential natural treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: evidence from a national study. American Journal of Public Health 94(9):1580-1586. http://www.kidsdiscovernature.com/2009/08/10-reasons-why-kids-should-play-outside.html

An Arctic University of Norway study reported about the risk of osteoporosis for boys who spend too much time in front of computer screens.

The International Osteoporosis Foundation reported about the Arctic University of Norway’s study regarding boys and screen time.

April 4, 2014
Study of Norwegian students finds great variation in impact on bone mineral density in boys and girls, concluding that teenage boys that spend more time in front of screen have weaker bones.
Results of a study presented today at the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases, showed that in boys, higher screen time was adversely associated to bone mineral density (BMD) at all sites even when adjusted for specific lifestyle factors.
The skeleton grows continually from birth to the end of the teenage years, reaching peak bone mass – maximum strength and size – in early adulthood. Along with nutritional factors, physical activity can also greatly impact on this process. There is consequently growing concern regarding the possible adverse effects of sedentary lifestyles in youth on bone health and on obesity.
The skeleton grows continually from birth to the end of the teenage years, reaching peak bone mass – maximum strength and size– in early adulthood. Along with nutritional factors, physical activity can also greatly impact on this process. There is consequently growing concern regarding the possible adverse effects of sedentary lifestyles in youth on bone health and on obesity.
The Norwegian study explored the hypothesis that greater computer use at weekends is associated with lower BMD. The data was obtained from 463 girls and 484 boys aged 15–18 years in the Tromsø region of Norway. The students participated in the Fit Futures study from 2010–2011 which assessed more than 90% of all first year high school students in the region.
BMD at total hip, femoral neck and total body was measured by DXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry). Lifestyle variables were collected by self-administered questionnaires and interviews, including questions on time per day during weekends spent in front of the television or computer, and time spent on leisure time physical activities. The associations between BMD and screen time were analyzed in a multiple regression model that included adjustment for age, sexual maturation, BMI, leisure time physical activity, smoking, alcohol, cod liver oil and carbonated drink consumption.
Not surprisingly, the researchers found that boys spent more time in front of the computer than girls. As well as high screen time being adversely associated to BMD, in boys screen time was also positively related to higher body mass index (BMI) levels. In contrast to the boys, girls who spent 4–6 hours in front of the computer, had higher BMD than counterparts who spend less than 1.5 hours screen time each day – and this could not be explained by adjustments for the different parameters measured.
Lead author of the study Dr Anne Winther, Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, stated, “Bone mineral density is a strong predictor of future fracture risk.O ur findings for girls are intriguing and definitely merit further exploration in other studies and population groups. The findings for boys on the other hand clearly show that sedentary lifestyle during adolescence can impact on BMD and thus compromise the acquisition of peak bone mass. This can have a negative impact in terms of osteoporosis and fracture risk later in life.”
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), approximately one in five men over the age of fifty worldwide will suffer a fracture as a result of osteoporosis. Very low levels of awareness about osteoporosis risk and bone health in males has prompted IOF to focus on osteoporosis in men as a key World Osteoporosis Day theme in 2014.
Abstract reference
OC 49 Leisure time computer use and adolescent bone health: findings from the Tromsø study–Fit Futures.
A. Winther, E. Dennison, O. A. Nilsen, R. Jorde, G. Grimnes, A. S. Furberg, L. A. Ahmed, N. Emaus. Osteoporos Int. Vol 25, Suppl. 2, 2014
Download abstracts from the IOF-ESCEO World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases

See, Does too much time at the computer lead to lower bone mineral density in adolescents? http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140404140205.htm

Web MD gives a good explanation of what osteoporosis is in the article, Osteoporosis Health Center:

Overview & Facts
Learn about osteoporosis and take action against this silent disease.You may not know you have it until your thinned, weakened bones fracture in a bump or fall.
What Is Osteoporosis?
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis weakens bones and increases the risk of unexpected fractures. Serious consequences can occur with some fractures. Read this overview article about osteoporosis and how to keep your bones strong.
Picture of Osteoporosis
Want to see what a bone with osteoporosis looks like, compared to a healthy bone? This link will show you photos of normal and osteoporotic bone.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease. It can be prevented with a healthy diet and staying physically active. Learn about factors that can make bones stronger or weaker.
What Causes Compression Fractures?
Most spinal compression fractures are never diagnosed because many patients and families think the back pain is merely a sign of aging and arthritis. These weakened bones cause the spine to collapse. Read more.
Are You at Risk?
Osteoporosis: Are You at Risk?
See what factors increase risk of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis Risk Factors: Fact vs. Fiction
Think you know all about osteoporosis? Chances are, some of the things you think you know about osteoporosis risk factors may be wrong.
Osteoporosis in Men
Find out what risk factors increase the chances of osteoporosis in men.
Osteoporosis Prevention
Osteoporosis can be prevented. People of all ages can get involved in protecting their bones. Exercise and a healthy diet can cut osteoporosis risk. Here are some tips for keeping your bones strong.
Vitamin D Deficiency?
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. And we need more vitamin D as we get older. Are you getting enough? If your diet doesn’t contain sufficient amounts of this bone saver, supplements may help. Read about vitamin D deficiency…. http://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/guide/osteoporosis-overview-facts

There is something to be said for Cafe Society where people actually meet face-to-face for conversation or the custom of families eating at least one meal together. Time has a good article on The Magic of the Family Meal http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1200760,00.html See, also Family Dinner: The Value of Sharing Meals http://www.ivillage.com/family-dinner-value-sharing-meals/6-a-128491
Perhaps, acting like the power is out from time to time and using Helen Robin’s suggestions is not such a bad idea.


Two studies: Social media and social dysfunction https://drwilda.com/2013/04/13/two-studies-social-media-and-social-dysfunction/

Common Sense Media report: Kids migrating away from Facebook

Is ‘texting’ destroying literacy skills https://drwilda.com/2012/07/30/is-texting-destroying-literacy-skills/

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