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ADHD, Exercise, and Chiropractic; What Does the Research Really Say?

Researchers looking for alternatives to the use of drugs to treat ADHD in children are taking a closer look at exercise as a option. A recent study found regular, half-hour sessions of aerobic activity before school helped young children with symptoms of ADHD pay more attention and become less moody. Other research found a single bout of exercise improved students’ attention and academic skills.

It isn’t clear whether physical exercise offers particular benefits to children with symptoms of ADHD, since students with typical development also showed improvements after the sessions. Children with the condition have greater-than-normal difficulty paying attention and may exhibit impulsive behavior, among other symptoms. Some doctors who specialize in treating children diagnosed with ADHD say they often incorporate exercise in the therapy. And some teachers have begun getting students up from their desks for short bursts of physical activity, finding it helps them pay attention to their studies.

As many parents grow leery of the traditional medical approach to ADHD, doctors of chiropractic are offering promising results with non-drug treatments that focus on postural muscles, nutrition and lifestyle changes that affect brain activity. When the problem is identified, patients are placed on a treatment program, most of the therapies can be done at home.

“Patients are asked to smell certain things several times a day … or wear special glasses,” says Dr. Mark S. Smith, a chiropractic neurologist. “We also focus on their individual problems. Some children, for example, have difficulty with planning, organization, and coordination—so they benefit from timing therapies. They learn to clap or tap to the metronome, perform spinning and balancing exercises.”

All cross-brain therapies that we have used successfully over the last 30 years to share in the care and treatment of children and adults with this difficult diagnosis.

While chiropractic neurologists have found success in treating ADHD and learning disabilities by providing the necessary brain stimulation, they also recommend nutrition and lifestyle changes that may help correct or prevent biochemical imbalances that cause ADHD.

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