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ADHD and Exercise: 3 Beneficial & Simple Exercises For ADHD

ADHD and Exercise: How Physical Activity Can Improve Symptoms for ADHD adults

Physical activity is widely recognized for its numerous health benefits, but its specific advantages for adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are particularly noteworthy.
Engaging in regular exercise can significantly reduce some of the common symptoms of ADHD and provide incredible health benefits that many people with ADHD actually don't realize.

ADHD and Exercise

It’s no surprise that physical fitness levels among young people have declined in recent years. Reasons for the decline may vary, however there is some controversial view that the COVID-19 pandemic has made the problem worse.

The recent covid 19 pandemic has led to a significant decrease in physical activity levels in most people, a trend that is especially detrimental for people with ADHD. Before the pandemic, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that only a small percentage of adults met recommended guidelines for daily physical activity.

Staying home and the closure of many sports and fitness programs during COVID-19 have worsened this situation, leading to an increase in sedentary lifestyles.

For adults with ADHD, who often struggle with impulsivity, restlessness, and a prolonged inability to focus, physical activity can serve as a powerful tool for symptom management. Here are two reasons why:

    • Exercise promotes the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine, which are often dysregulated in individuals with ADHD.
      • This biochemical effect can mimic some of the impacts of common ADHD medications, thereby improving attention and reducing impulsivity. 
    • Enhances social connections: 
      • Physical activity can also be a way for people with ADHD to connect and make friends with other people.
      • Participating in group sports or exercise activities provides a structured environment where people with ADHD can interact with others, foster friendships, and enhance social skills. This shared interest in physical activity can help form meaningful connections and a sense of community, which are essential for emotional and social development.

Aerobic exercise: This is anything that gets your heart pounding. You want to do something that raises your heart rate and keeps it there for a set amount of time, like half an hour to 40 minutes. Aerobic exercise creates new pathways in your brain and floods it with the chemicals that help you pay attention.

If you can’t do aerobic exercise, you can try one of these instead:

    • Running 
    • Walking briskly 
    • Biking 
    • Swimming laps

You can do these activities outdoors or indoors, but if you have a choice, go outside, being in nature while you move can reduce your ADHD symptoms even more than when you exercise inside.

Martial arts: More complex your exercise is, the better for your brain. Sports like karate, taekwondo, and judo focus on self-control and bringing together your mind and body. 

When you do martial arts, you get training in skills like:

    • Focus and concentration 
    • Balance 
    • Timing 
    • Memory 
    • Consequences of actions 
    • Fine motor skills

Other complex exercises. If martial arts isn’t your thing, other physical activities that challenge your mind and body are:

    • Rock climbing 
    • Dance 
    • Gymnastics 
    • Yoga

Team sports: If you join a softball or soccer league, it may be just the thing to get you up and moving several times a week. Organized sports have all the benefits of physical exercise with the added bonus of a social group to motivate you.

Teamwork hones your communication skills and helps you think through your actions and plan ahead. Being part of a team can also improve your self-esteem.

For adults with ADHD, maintaining a regular exercise regimen is essential not only for physical health but also for mental well-being. 

The positive impacts of exercise on brain function and ADHD symptoms highlight the importance of incorporating physical activity into daily routines, especially in a post-pandemic world where sedentary behaviors have become more prevalent. 

Engaging in regular physical activity is a proactive way to improve focus, reduce symptoms, and enhance overall quality of life for adults with ADHD.


If you want to know about what are the best 5 apps for ADHD adults, you can read here

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