Exercising Three Times a Day Could Reduce ADD

Scientists at Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins Discuss Non-Medicative Alternatives for ADD/ADHD

The interesting fact in the excerpt from USA Today below is the high percentage of use, the other interesting observation is the substitution of exercise for the drugs and achieving similar results without the chemical intervention....

... About 4 million Americans take stimulant medications for ADHD, including nearly 10% of 10-year-old boys, says Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic.

Nissen and other members of a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel were concerned enough about the drugs' safety last month that they suggested adding a "black box" warning about possible heart risks. Last week, another advisory panel recommended adding label information about the risk of hallucinations. The FDA has not yet acted on those recommendations.

Doctors haven't done many definitive studies about exercise and ADHD, says David Goodman, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. But Goodman says it makes sense that working out would help people cope with the condition. Studies show that exercise increases levels of two key brain chemicals — dopamine and norepinephrine — that help people focus.

"Your cognitive function is probably better for one to three hours after exercise," Goodman says. "The difficulty is that by the next day, the effect has worn off."

If kids could exercise strenuously three to five times a day, they might not need medications at all, says John Ratey, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Ratey is so intrigued by the question that he's writing a book about how exercise can reduce symptoms of ADHD or at least help patients cope.

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