Exercise and Executive Functioning
Regularly moving the body has immediate, protective, long-lasting, benefits for executive functioning and brain health.
Having written previously for CBA’s blogs series on the relationship between Sleep and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, I find it interesting that there is now a surging need to address a hot new research topic that will seem to many to be another call-back to common sense within the broad field of “good mental hygiene”– the relationship between exercise and executive functioning (EF). But I love it when new science validates an old idea, and this one is a beaut!
In my retirement from a patient-centered clinical neuropsychology practice at EVMS, I have been editing the journal, Perceptual and Motor Skills. In this journal and in many others, there has been an explosion of new research over recent years on the benefits of physical activity for better health generally and for improved neurocognitive and especially EF skills across the life span. As an ADHD researcher/clinician, I have long been interested in this topic for its potential relevance to children, adolescents, and adults with ADHD.
We have long known that impatience, inattention, overactivity, and distractibility associated with ADHD creates a buzz saw of activity in homes and schools that threaten to overwhelm parents, teachers, and care providers, especially those who fail to give adequate time to physical activity. For much of my career, exercise was seen to be valuable for its powers in providing to children a needed release. Some viewed it, usually with more hope than merit, as a means of inducing fatigue as a path to settling symptoms. Parents on family road trips would require children in the back seat to “run it off” at rest stops in the feint hope that the kids would then sleep for a few hundred miles....
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