Benefits of Biking; How Pedaling Is Helping Children With ADHD

Over the last decade in America, there has been a 41% increase in ADHD diagnoses among children ages 4-17 years old.
So, what exactly is ADHD? It is one of the most common childhood disorders that includes difficulty staying focused and paying attention. Children also show signs of having difficulty controlling behavior and hyperactivity. You might know a child who has trouble focusing or concentrating in school, or perhaps you live with this disorder yourself. There are three distinct types of ADHD in children and teens, those are:


1. Predominantly Inattentive
-Difficulty keeping on task and following through
-Difficulty paying attention
-Appearing not to listen when spoken to
-Often forgetful or easily distractible

2. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive
-Fidgets or has difficulty remaining seated
-Always “on the go”
-Talks excessively
-Blurts out answers to questions or has difficulty taking turns

3. Combined (Inattentive/Hyperactive-Impulsive)
-A child can show symptoms of both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive behaviors.
(from moretoadhd.com)

How is ADHD diagnosed? As with anything of medical nature, an appointment with your child’s doctor is the place to start. The process of obtaining a diagnosis starts with an open and honest conversation about your concerns and or observations.  A doctor will generally diagnose the disorder after a child has had difficulty with hyperactivity or inattention for over 6 months and in more than one setting (IE. both home and school.)

For parents, any diagnosis can be scary, and your first thought will most likely be “What can we do to help?” The good news is there are plenty of treatment approaches to help tackle ADHD behaviors and help your child succeed.  There are also plenty of resources for support, like CHADD, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by ADHD. https://chadd.org/about/ This site is loaded with tons of information and resources.


How is ADHD treated? Treatment options include behavioral treatment, school accommodations and medication. ADHD treatment is considered “multimodal” and should be tailored to each child’s needs and circumstances. Initial treatment is often focused on behavioral and school support. Some options include therapy for children and parents. School accommodations can be built from individualized plans, tutoring and/or special education programs. Teachers may also implement simple strategies to help children succeed.
Medication options for ADHD fall into two categories. Controlled medications/stimulates and noncontrolled medications/non-stimulants.
In addition to these treatment options, we were excited to find a study from Specialized Bicycles that suggests biking can drastically improve symptoms of ADHD as well. 


How can biking help children with ADHD?
The study from Specialized Bicycles measured the effects of cycling on the attention capacity of 47 middle school students with ADHD. The study found that when the children rode their bikes five days per week before school for 30 minutes there was an increase in positive moods, improvements in several aspects of attention, as well as acute and longer-term benefits in cognition.
The experience positively altered brain activity, increased attention spans, boosted moods, and of course, improved fitness and BMI. Even better, it only took one ride to start seeing the results.
The students’ brains showed faster information processing and positive changes in activation patterns, especially for those with attention difficulties. Even after just one bike ride, students with ADHD were less impulsive and made fewer mistakes on attention-related tasks.

(Sourced from https://outridebike.org/research)

If biking is helping middle school children with ADHD this much, imagine what learning to ride a bicycle at the kindergarten level will do for so many children diagnosed with ADHD.

Adding biking to a child’s life with ADHD will provide many positive benefits. Not only can biking be a way to help children with ADHD, but it is also instilling a lifetime skill at the same time. A skill that parents can enjoy with their children.  Biking is a great way for families to spend time together.

In no order, here is a list from the Specialized Foundation of the benefits biking provides to children with ADHD

-Biking improves attention in children with ADHD
-Biking positively alters brain activity for children with ADHD
-Biking improves fitness for children with ADHD
-Biking improves the mood for children with ADHD
-Biking builds confidence for children with ADHD


For more in-depth information on the benefits of biking in children with ADHD please visit https://outridebike.org/ridingforfocus