Sunday, May 13, 2007

The link between exercise, diet and sleep patterns

Does your preschool or grade school child have poor sleep? Does your preschool or grade school child refuse to eat healthy food? The reason may be a sedentary lifestyle and insufficient exercise.

I have always believed that exercise is an important part of a program of prevention of ADHD, addiction and antisocial behavior in at risk kids. This belief has only been strengthened over the past 3 months.

Late winter, it was rather cold in the Northeast. We did not go out a lot and I am sorry to say my at risk son did not get enough exercise. He attends preschool where he plays indoors for at least 30 minutes a day but this was not enough. If you read my website you know that I am a mother who believes in authoritative parenting with lots of love accompanied by rules for conduct that are enforced. I have to tell you that this parenting style was NOT ENOUGH to prevent the problems that developed at the end of winter.

My son developed an extreme sweet tooth and an aversion for good healthy food. I thought I might have to ban him from the dinner table because he fell apart the moment he saw his healthy dinner stating, "I don't like that!" No amount of bribery or discipline was effective in eliminating this behavior. The same time this behavior developed, he also became more hyperactive-impulsive in general. He had poor sleep as well.

In response to the problems managing his behavior, I began a program of exercise with him. This program is at least one hour a day, either biking or walking. We also spend all Saturday afternoon doing an outdoor activity together. Within a weekof beginning this program, the change was dramatic. The improvements have been maintained over the last 3 months.

These are the beneficial effects of exercise I have observed for my son:

1) Dramatic reduction in hyperactivity
2) Dramatic reduction in impulsivity
3) Better mood, less anger
4) Less defiance, better cooperation
5) Better self direction- he plays nicely on his own with blocks and even colors on his own
6) Reduced aggression
7) Better sleep patterns
8) Much improved appetite- He now willingly eats vegetables and even TOFU!
9) LESS craving for junk food

These are the beneficial effects I have seen for myself:

1) Better mood and good feeling about mothering
2) Better sleep
3) A feeling of physical fitness
4) Weight loss (6 pounds so far)

The only down side is that I truly don't have enough time to clean house. I have decided that we can put up with things being a little messier because of the other benefits we are receiving.

In conclusion, your preschool child and your grade school child need a lot of exercise, but so do you! As a nation we are becoming obese, unhappy and substance dependent. The three are directly connected through insufficient exercise. Exercise is one part of a program to correct the chemical and spiritual imbalance that results in impulsivity and risk for addiction. Both you and your child will have better well-being if you exercise together. You will also have more love in your lives as you enjoy this healthy activity together!

1 comment:

Jacki said...

I found that exercise helps with the ADHD and the sleep. Diet is an issue all unto itself. DS does not eat well at all. I wonder if someone here has had good experiences with using nutritiona supplements for ADHD. I ran across an ADHD supplement called Attend. Has anyone tried it? It’s at It looks great and I thought I would ask around before ordering.