The Institute for Education Science has reviewed a study of the effects of exercise on ADHD symptoms:
“What is this study about?
The study examined the effect of a daily before-school physical activity program on behavioral outcomes of students in grades K–2 in two small US cities. The physical activity intervention was designed to improve symptoms associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The study sample included 202 students who either were identified as at risk for ADHD or showed typical development. The study authors randomly assigned students to receive either the physical activity intervention or a sedentary classroom-based program. The study authors then altered the random assignment of students by switching the students with the lowest and highest body mass index (BMI) in order to have more similar research groups. The authors analyzed the student data based on the altered assignments to condition.
Both the physical activity and sedentary, classroom-based programs were conducted daily for 31 minutes before school for 12 weeks. Students receiving the physical activity intervention played games involving continuous activity, while students in the sedentary classroom-based comparison condition worked on art activities.
The study authors assessed the effects of the physical activity program relative to the sedentary program separately for students identified as at risk for ADHD and students showing typical development. Within each ADHD risk status group, the authors compared outcomes of the students in the intervention group with outcomes of the students in the comparison group. Outcome measures included parent and teacher assessments of student behavior.
What did the study find?
None of the analyses presented in this study meet WWC standards, and therefore, the study findings are not presented in this WWC report.”
The entire review can be found here. Note that this simply means that this paper had methodological problems and the question of exercise as a treatment for ADHD remains open.