In an earlier post we examined a few exercises that are beneficial for cerebellar development. For parents of children with ADHD, cerebellum exercises can prove to be enormously helpful in managing some of the symptoms of ADHD. This post is an overview of the benefits derived from engaging in activities that exercise the cerebellum.
The links between movement, exercise, and improved cognition are well known. Movement stimulates brain activity, especially in the cerebellum, where many motor-related activities are controlled. Yet, our educational system still requires students to spend the majority of their day sitting quietly in a desk. This creates an environment in which all students – not just those with ADHD – struggle to pay attention, retain information, and behave themselves.
Researchers have discovered a direct neural pathway between the cerebellum and the parts of the brain responsible for cognitive functioning. As such, combining movement with classroom learning is a highly effective strategy that has many benefits. First, by stimulating activity in the cerebellum through guided exercise, the areas of the brain responsible for attention, memory and spatial perception are also activated. Studies show that students who engage in exercise perform better on intellectual tasks that require memory.
Second, cerebellum exercises help improve retrieval of information. Again, using improved neural pathways stimulated by exercise, the brain is able to not only remember more information and store it effectively, but it is also able to locate that information and bring it to recall faster. Additionally, exercise allows the brain to respond to environmental stimuli faster and more efficiently. For example, by combining an exam review with an activity such as throwing a ball, a student’s ability to react to the physical stimuli in the environment – the ball – improves alongside his or her ability to recall information stored in their brain.
Thirdly, cerebellum exercises facilitate oxygen delivery to the brain, and boost the level of neurotropins, both of which increase the number of neural connections. The more neural connections there are in the brain, the better the neural functioning. As a result, not only are cognition and memory improved, the likelihood of depression is also decreased.
Improved memory, better attention, and streamlined brain functioning – all the benefits of exercise are directly relatable to a symptom of ADHD. The activation that takes place throughout the brain during exercise makes learning easier for children with ADHD by channeling their energy into something active and productive. Even simple activities such as stretching or throwing a ball can be enough to help a child with ADHD focus, retain information and reduce hyperactive behaviors. If you have a child with ADHD and seek more information about the disorder or about treatments, visit the Learning Breakthrough Program’s ADHD page.