Teen girls who exercise each day have better attention spans than their peers, a study suggests.
A University of Illinois research team found that girls who exercised less were slower and less accurate on tests that involved ignoring distracting information.
More blood flows to the brain during and after exercise – boosting executive functioning, which includes a person’s attention span.
Diagnosis of behavioral issues is rife among American teens, but getting your kids off their phones and playing outside might do the trick instead of medication.
ADHD drug sales rocketed during the pandemic when many were forced to spend hours inside thanks to lockdowns, which caused ongoing Adderall shortages.
Some 211 females aged between 15 and 18 wore accelerometers on their wrist for seven days for the study, to calculate the intensity of their physical activity
Prescriptions for Adderall doubled in the US during the pandemic, due to a relaxing of prescription rules to keep people at home in lockdowns
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition including attention difficulty, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
The disorder is far less likely to be diagnosed in girls compared to boys, and some women do not receive a diagnosis until adulthood.
ADHD prevalence varies greatly between the UK and US, posing questions as to whether rates are as high as diagnoses claim.
Between 2016 and 2019, 13 percent of US children aged 12-17 were diagnosed with ADHD.
In comparable nations like the UK, ADHD rates are much lower — around 4 percent of boys and 1 percent of girls.
This is combined with the more sedentary lifestyles lived by American children, which also caused the obesity crisis.
Many minors with ADHD have other conditions, including learning disorders, anxiety and depression.
Adderall is the most popular ADHD drug. Prescriptions spiked to 4.1 million in 2021, a 10 percent increase on the previous year.
But Illinois researchers may have found a more natural way to control your child’s attention span.
The researchers used data from a previous trial of high school students in New South Wales, Australia, looking at differences between gender in terms of physical activity and cognition.
They used data from 418 participants, including 211 females aged between 15 and 18, who wore accelerometers on their wrist for seven days.
The device measures changes in acceleration, which researchers used to calculate the intensity of their physical activity.
Participants also took part in cognitive tasks on a computer to test their attention control and working memory, including tests that required them to ignore distracting information.
One task involved looking at a black background with three white arrows and pressing P on their keyboard if the middle arrow was pointing right and pressing Q if it was facing the left.
Participants’ response times were recorded.
The researchers found that the girls who had done less exercise over the course of the day took longer and were less accurate on the tests.
The associations were ‘small-to-moderate’, said study leader Dominika Pindus, professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois, but still important.
The results need to be investigated further in random controlled trials, she added.
The findings were published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports.
Previous studies found that better attention control is linked to improved academic performance, as well as ‘having better finances, having better health and less chances of being convicted of a crime’, Ms Pindus said.
Other research has suggested that high calorie diets may lead to memory impairment, and increased cardiovascular risks in obese children could be linked to lower academic performance.
Exercise has a whole host of brain-boosting benefits. It can increase the thickness of your cerebral cortex and also encourages the brain’s ability to generate new neural connections, known as neuroplasticity, which can avoid cognitive issues further down the line.
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