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October 27, 2015
by Agnes Oh, PsyD, LMFT

New Research Reveals How Motor Activity Can Aid Cognitive Functioning of Children with ADHD

October 27, 2015 07:18 by Agnes Oh, PsyD, LMFT

A recent study, however, has challenged this understanding and revealed that over-correcting gross motor activity in children with ADHD can actually decline their cognitive functioning and hence, their academic performance (Sarver et al., 2015).  [1]

New Findings

Contrary to the common notion, researchers concluded that children with ADHD rely heavily on movement and motor activity to perform their executive functions, as the majority of them have been found to perform better when they are moving.

These findings suggest that gross motor movement is directly linked to level of alertness associated with working memory, especially among children with ADHD. In fact, it is contraindicated to restrict motor movement because when students with ADHD are forced to sit still, they may be gravely hindered in their ability to learn, retain information, and follow instructions properly (ibid.).

What this means is that the majority of students with ADHD could actually improve their overall performance in their academic work (e.g. homework, standardized tests, and classroom tasks) if they were allowed to engage in some sort of motor activities (e.g. riding exercise bikes or sitting on activity balls) when working on complex cognitive tasks.

In this case, the very symptom of the condition turned out to be the most effective mode of treatment.

These findings are both astonishing and promising for parents, teachers, and health care professionals, invoking a whole new approach to ascertain when working with children with ADHD.


It seems as though the new study is revealing something much more universally significant and applicable beyond the world of ADHD.

There’s already a solid body of research demonstrating the mind body connection, and this new research finding offers one more evidence of how our physical and mental well-being are interdependently intertwined.

The study has further exemplified how it is possible to transform what is construed as pathological into the very source of empowerment, healing, and growth.

Perhaps its remarkable results can serve as yet another powerful affirmation of human nature in flux that never ceases to mold, adapt, and evolve ongoing.

It only confirms the power of human potential to tap into the mysterious workings of the body and mind to create infinite new possibilities.


Sarver, D. E., Rapport, M.D., Kofler, M.J., Raiker, J.S., & Friedman, L.M. Hyperactivity in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Impairing Deficit or Compensatory Behavior?  Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, October 2015, Volume 43, Issue 7, pp 1219-1232.

About the Author

Dr. Agnes Oh Dr. Agnes Oh, PsyD, LMFT

Dr. Agnes Oh is dually licensed as a clinical psychologist and a marriage and family therapist in the state of California, fully committed to helping each individual to maximize his/her intrinsic potential to heal, grow, and thrive.

Dr. Agnes Oh has a clinical practice in Glendale, CA

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