Exercise And ADHD: Symptoms, Treatments and Exercise

Exercise and ADHD

Exercise And ADHD

In this article, we’ll discuss exercise and ADHD.

Exercise and ADHD, or the Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a mental disorder with causes problems with the neurotransmissions of the brain. It hampers the development of the brain and ranges in its severity. 

Symptoms of ADHD

These are quite easily recognizable, although it depends on how serious they are to assure if they indeed are a sign of ADHD. Although the symptoms might be different for children and adults, they roughly fall into the same category of behavior. They include:

  1. Impulsive nature, which leads to reckless actions
  2. Inability to stay still: Fidgeting and restlessness
  3. Extremely limited attention spans
  4. Hyperactivity through oral or physical means
  5. Distraction, which occurs quite easily
  6. Poor working memory.

Treatments and Exercise

ADHD is an incurable disorder. While there are medically no means of permanently healing it, it can be kept in check with prescribed ADHD medicines, therapy, coaching, and physical activities. Physical activities increase the production of endorphins, which is the ‘feel-good’ chemical of the brain. 

Although the immediate effects of exercising last only a few hours after the activity, and it cannot be repeated multiple times a day, it is recommended to have some exercise integrated, along with the other forms of ADHD treatments.

However, exercise should have separate approaches for children and adults, respectively. This is due to the variations of the ADHD severity and procedure in treatment, for the age groups.

Children Below the Age of 18

There is absolutely no reason why a parent shouldn’t include exercise into the daily regime of a child unless there are physical attributes that act as an obstacle. It drastically improves the cognitive functioning of the brain, regardless of the child having ADHD or not.

Special Cautions

Choosing the right exercise, however, is extremely important. A child diagnosed with ADHD cannot merely be given an activity to do. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Competitive games are a no-go, although children’s games are quite often competitive. ADHD children would find it hard to keep up with the rules and regulations, and the victories of the other children would only make them feel embarrassed about themselves. They may end up in a complete withdrawal from the want of exercising.
  2. The same stands for group activities. Coordinating the actions with their peers is a rather tough job for them, and not many would be happy with physical contacts happening on a regular.
  3. Not many ADHD children like the concept of gym class. The reasons mentioned above make it a challenge for encouraging them into exercising since they’d rather stay by themselves.

How to Start off

These ways of going about with physical activities aren’t always possible, and they shouldn’t be introduced to the child right away. Instead, try some of these ways:

  1. Start the day with physical activity, so that the child would be way more focused and stabilized in school. Taking the dog out for a morning walk, riding the bike to school, or walking to school may be some methods. You could also encourage morning family activities, like going out for a jog, or having a kid-friendly workout at home.
  2. Let the child be physically active during the day. Moving around the school or home with assigned tasks, and the permission to frequently change places. Take good advantage of the breaks given by letting them run around and play to their heart’s content.
  3. Swimming and diving classes are incredibly beneficial, as the repetitive motions involved in them are both soothing and physically taxing for the greater good.
  4. Running and track sports are recommended as well, since they would have a positive effect on the executive functioning of the brain, and are an excellent way to tire them out.
  5. Even martial arts or yoga are some excellent choices. It is important to note that activities that have individual participation are always a better choice for ADHD kids.

Integrating at least 30 minutes of proper exercise into the child’s daily life, along with an increase in physically moving the body as the day progresses, are ensured methods of keeping ADHD in check. Exercise never fails as a ‘healthy habit’ to be taught and followed by children.

Exercise for Adults

As ADHD carries on into adulthood, treatments for it shouldn’t be limited only to children. And while children require special precautions to be taken before being meted out with anything, adults can make do without many red flags in place. However, adults are capable of manipulating themselves. This means that they have learned how to cover up their signs of ADHD through various coping mechanisms.

While that is something that needs to be dealt with therapy, an adult has responsibilities and duties to take care of. They cannot afford to be too hyperactive or lose memory, or perhaps show impulsive behavior. Even though they might be too busy to follow their prescribed treatments, adding exercise into their daily life is extremely helpful.

The Importance of an Active Life

The stimulant medicines that are often used to treat ADHD work by making dopamine actively available in the brain. Hence it makes sense that a workout can have many of the same effects as stimulant drugs. Fitness and exercise have benefits such as:

  1. Increase the production of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor in the brain, which is a protein involved with the learning and memory function.  
  2. Stay at a healthy weight. Adults with ADHD are more prone to obesity.
  3. Reduction in stress, and a way to keep the blood pressure and cholesterol in control.
  4. Improvement of self-esteem and mood swings
  5. Gaining power over impulsive control and decreasing compulsive behavior.

Recommended Ways of Exercising

Again, for adults, a daily schedule of exercises which span for around 30 to 45 minutes at least, should be maintained. Something which makes you sweat out, increases your heart rate, makes your muscles tired out, and leaves you panting is essential to make the most out of your session.

Gym Workouts: 

An adult is capable of benefitting from a gym and its equipment’s in the best ways. A personal coach’s expertise, along with the doctor’s advice, would go a long way in increasing control over the symptoms of ADHD.

Aerobic Exercises:

This opens up new pathways in the brain and helps produce chemicals in the brain that aid in attentiveness. It is recommended that jogging or running be carried out outdoors since studies show that moving around in nature help reduce ADHD symptoms way better.

Strength Training:

This isn’t just limited to weightlifting in the gym. Exercises like lunges, squats, push-ups, and pull-ups are just as effective. There are loads of instructions and tracking apps available on the internet, which would eventually help form a habit.


Exercise has always had its comprehensive benefits. While touted for its help in keeping the body in shape and taking care of muscles, it is essential to highlight its role over mental health as well, which is why it is an excellent means of non-pharmacological treatment for ADHD.