Many experts believe that exercise can have much the same effect on ADHD as medications. In book The Exercise Prescription, Dr. Michael Lara, a California psychiatrist and author, notes that exercise can stimulate the growth of nerve cells and brain structure and boosts important neurotransmitters. But not all exercises are created equal. Which ones are the best to help manage ADHD symptoms?
Martial arts can prove beneficial if you have ADHD. ADDitude Magazine notes that martial arts are not only physical; they are complex activities that help to improve the ADHD brain by strengthening neural pathways and by helping students gain discipline and self-control. Those qualities which can be challenging for those with ADHD. One research study that followed teenagers through a one-and-a-half-year intervention of taekwondo was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Researchers found that taekwondo helped to significantly increase qualities like selective attention.
Aerobics is another form of exercise to consider for ADHD management. In one study published in the journal Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, scientists who looked at children with ADHD found that after 20 minutes of moderately intense cycling, this exercise improved “inhibitory control and attentional resources” in participants. They concluded that aerobics was an efficient way to help with the inhibition deficits often seen in those with this condition.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, yoga, with its deliberate and controlled movements, also has potential benefits for those with ADHD. Researchers publishing in the journal PeerJ Life and Environment found that children who took part in an eight-week yoga program performed better and more quickly on visual and perception tests. The scientists noted that yoga, used in conjunction with other therapies such as medication, was a discipline that could help with both attention and inhibition deficits.
Researchers and experts have found that exercise in general has proven to be beneficial for those with ADHD. And these specific exercises do seem to be particularly beneficial. Martial arts, aerobics and yoga are three modalities to consider to help mitigate the attention, self-control and other deficits that often go along with ADHD.