Kids with ADHD Benefit from Swimming and Cycling

Attention Deficit, Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a behavior disorder that is characterized by hyperactivity, trouble focusing, and acting without thinking. Although these features are characteristic of all children from time to time, those with ADHD exhibit these symptoms for longer periods of time, and in multiple settings. Their ability to function socially, academically, and in the home setting is hindered. Although ADHD cannot be cured, it can be successfully managed with the development and following of an individualized, long-term plan for the affected individuals to control their behavior.
• ADHD has a wide spectrum. It can range from having a wandering mind to having a wandering body.
• Often kids get distracted in class and cannot stay focused on simple tasks.
• Sometimes parents choose medication as a last resort. However, the medication may not have the same effects after a while. So, parents seek out  a more sustainable method.
According to various research studies that were reported in kids who engage in physical activity that requires them to focus for extended periods of time, show improvement in their school work and in their overall attitude and outlook. Further research reported in Psychology Today showed that individual sports, such as bike riding, tend to be better choices for kids with ADHD than sports that have lags in activity such as softball because the latter allows too much time for their minds to wander.
The Power of Wind and Water
Swimming and cycling have shown positive results in helping kids with ADHD learn to focus better, and therefore perform better in school. These activities demand focus for the kids to remain upright on a bike or to not drown in the water. In turn, these activities are more helpful compared to running on a field for a soccer ball, which can allow your eyes and mind to wander off.
The research on bicycling went on to show that students who use cycling as a form of exercise not only focus better during the activity but afterward as well. The skills they develop while they are engaged in their bike ride truly extend to the classroom and other parts of their lives.
The story of Michael Phelps, the much-decorated Olympic swimmer is a perfect example of how an individualized sport such as swimming can help children overcome the perils of ADHD. Phelps was diagnosed with the disorder when he was just 9 years old. He started taking medication for it, but had to stop when he began focusing on his swimming career, as the medications are banned substances by major sporting outlets.  Since he had found his niche with swimming, his desire to do well on it forced him to focus on it intently. This focus then spilled into other aspects of his life. Although he had previously not been academically oriented, his grades began to improve.
Testimony from Phelps’ mother and teacher indicate that his swim training allowed him to stop taking his medication.
Mrs. Kines, Phelps’ teacher, in her letter to Phelps’ mother, said, “It had never been focus he lacked, but, rather a goal worthy of his focus.”
Case in Point
I had a case that involved an 11-year-old girl with ADHD who I taught how to swim. At her first lesson, she was only able to swim 10 meters before she got distracted, lost focus, and the purpose to keep at it. She would stand up in the shallow part of the pool and needed to be coaxed to continue. Often, her concentration was so short that she was unable to stay focused long enough to execute the strokes and swim the length of the pool.
At the end of nine months, she could swim 20 X 25 meters with breaks in between and 2 X 50 meters, with improved motor control. Plus, the feedback from her school teacher was that she was now able to focus better in class.
If you use individualized sports to give kids with ADHD the tools that are necessary for them to focus, you will undoubtedly help them overcome their attention issues and help them live better lives.