What’s the connection between ADHD & Exercise?

Cindy JobsHealth and Well-Being, Organization, Uncategorized

Most of us are aware that exercise is critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but is more important for some than others?

“When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals called neurotransmitters, including dopamine, which help with attention and clear thinking. People with ADHD often have less dopamine than usual in their brain.” WebMD

“With regular physical activity, we can raise the baseline levels of dopamine and norepinephrine.” ADDitudemag

So, even though exercise is great for nearly everyone, individuals with ADHD may benefit even more due to their already lower levels of dopamine.

Overall benefits of exercise:

  • Lower risk of heart disease and diabetes.
  • Lower weight will reduce stress on joints.
  • Exercise lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

But what about ADHD in particular?

What’s the best exercise?  The simple answer is whatever will keep you motivated.  Remember, exercise doesn’t have to be hard.  A walk with a friend is exercise.  A round of golf is exercise.  A game of badminton is exercise.  Find what works for you.

  • Do you hate jogging but love to dance? Then dance.
  • Are you having difficulty motivating yourself to get to the gym?  Enlist a buddy to meet you there, both for accountability and social interaction.  I find it’s just more fun to exercise with someone.
  • Do you struggle with joint pain? Swimming may be the answer.
  • For added benefit, studies have shown that being in nature increases the benefit of exercise.
  • Because ADHD brains like to try new things, be diverse in your exercise regime, but structured in calendarizing the exercise time.  For example, schedule exercise time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but try Crossfit one day, Kickboxing another, and possibly a dance class on the third day.

What can you do to step up your exercise game?

Cindy Jobs, COC, ACC

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Blog Resources:

WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/adult-adhd-and-exercise#1; https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/exercise-manage-adhd-symptoms#1

Care2.com: https://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-surprising-health-benefits-of-being-around-trees.html

ADDitude Magazine: https://www.additudemag.com/exercise-and-the-adhd-brain/; https://www.additudemag.com/the-adhd-exercise-solution/

National Institute of Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3724411/

CHADD: https://chadd.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/ATTN_06_12_Exercise.pdf

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