To explore the effects of physical exercise intervention on the cardinal symptoms, motor skills and executive function among children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Literature searches for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were performed in PubMed, The Cochrane Library, Web of Science, Embase, CNKI, CBM, VIP and Wanfang databases from the time of database construction to March 28, 2021. Screening was conducted based on inclusion and exclusion criteria. The Cochrane bias risk assessment tools were used to evaluate methodological quality. Relevant data were analyzed with RevMan5.3.5 software, and Stata16.0 was used for publication bias tests.
A total of 15 RCTs with 734 subjects were included. The meta-analysis showed that physical exercise can improve the attention of ADHD children (standardized mean difference [SMD] = -0.60, 95% confidence interval [CI] [-1.10, -0.11], p < 0.01), executive function (SMD = 1.22, 95% CI [0.61, 1.82], p < 0.01), and motor skills (SMD = 0.67, 95% CI [0.22, 1.12], p < 0.01). There were no significant effects on hyperactivity (SMD = 0.06, 95% CI [-0.26, 0.37], p = 0.72), depression (SMD = -0.72, 95% CI [-1.55, 0.11], p = 0.09), social problems (SMD = -0.27, 95% CI [-0.64, 0.09], p = 0.14), or aggressive behavior (SMD=-0.24, 95% CI [-0.69, -0.21], p = 0.30). Intervention duration and frequency might be the source of heterogeneity.
Physical exercise can help alleviate the symptoms of ADHD in children. Specifically, it can improve attention, executive function, and motor skills.
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