According to a new study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders, the common practice of treating children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with medication can be replaced by something with fewer side effects.
Maybe you don’t want to feed your hyperactive boy with pills like Adderall or Ritalin, and luckily, you have an alternative: teaching him healthy lifestyle habits.
For the study, researchers evaluated 184 children with ADHD and 104 without the disorder; all of the participants were aged 7 to 11. The findings showed that children diagnosed with ADHD were less likely to adhere to the healthy behaviors suggested by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Sleep Foundation.
According to the guidelines, children should not spend more than one to two hours in front of the TV, at the computer or playing video games each day. They should also get at least one hour of physical activity daily and drink between seven and 10 cups of water.
The said study recommends parents to try and integrate as many healthy behaviors into their kids with ADHD, as this could lead to improvements in their disorder.
Lead author Kathleen Holton of American University said that if parents don’t want to put their children on medication, teaching them healthy lifestyle behaviors could be an effective alternative.
‘Parents of children with ADHD should talk with their pediatrician about how to improve health behaviors, such as limiting screen time, encouraging physical activity, improving bedtime routines and drinking water rather than other beverages,” she added.
With the new lifestyle-changing behaviors, the effects of ADHD can be reduced. And the beauty of this alternative treatment is that one behavioral change asks for another. For instance, performing physical activity increases thirst, encouraging more water consumption.
At the same time, removing caffeinated beverages from their diet also helps increase water consumption. Physical activity can improve sleep and reduce sleep disruptions, and also offset the child’s screen time.
A previous study published in the Journal of Sleep Research did indeed find that children with ADHD take much longer to go to bed than children without an ADHD diagnose.
“As research into health outcomes in children with ADHD continues to provide new insights, focusing on the overall number of healthy lifestyle behaviors may become important,” Holton concluded.
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