Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) which is characterized by developmentally inappropriate levels of attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, is considered as the most common neurodevelopmental disorder in childhood. Physical exercise has shown to have several benefits in the improvement of children with ADHD. In this meta-analysis, we aimed to systematically show, with evidence, the impact of physical exercise on children with ADHD.
Web of Science, MEDLINE, EMBASE, Google Scholar, Cochrane Central and http://www.ClinicalTrials.gov were the searched sources for studies which were based on the impact of physical exercise on children with ADHD. Relevant endpoints were assessed. This evidence based meta-analysis was carried out by the most relevant RevMan 5.3 software. Due to the involvement of continuous data (mean and standard deviation), weight mean difference (WMD) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were used to represent the final analysis. A significant level of P <= .05 was set and a fixed statistical effect model was used throughout the analysis.
Fourteen studies with a total number of 574 participants with ADHD were included in this evidenced based meta-analysis. Two hundred and seventy six (276) participants were assigned to the physical activity group whereas 298 participants were assigned to the control group. Results of this analysis showed that anxiety and depression were significantly improved with physical activity in these children with ADHD (WMD: -1.84; 95% CI: [-2.65 - (-1.03)], P = .00001). Hyperactive/impulsive symptoms (WMD: -0.01; 95% CI: [-0.32 - 0.29], P = .93) and inattention symptoms (WMD: -0.22; 95% CI: [-0.51 - 0.08], P = .15) were also improved with physical exercise but the results were not statistically significant. This evidence based analysis showed thought problems (WMD: -3.49; 95% CI: [-5.51 - (-1.47)], P = .0007), social problems (WMD: -5.08; 95% CI: [-7.34 - (-2.82)], P = .0001), and aggressive behaviors (WMD: -3.90; 95% CI: [-7.10 - (-0.70)], P = .02) to have significantly been improved in participants with ADHD who were assigned to physical activity group.
This current meta-analysis showed with evidence, that physical exercise has a major contribution owing to significant improvement in anxiety and depression, aggressive behaviors, thought and social problems among children suffering from ADHD. Therefore, physical exercise should be incorporated in the daily life of children with ADHD. Further future research should be able to confirm this hypothesis.
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