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Exercises that Can Help Your ADHD Symptoms

Exercises that can help your adhd symptoms

You have probably read or heard that exercise is good for ADHD symptoms. The problem is this: ADHD is not the same for each person, and there are a wide variety of symptoms that a person can present with if they have this diagnosis. The good news is that there are also a wide variety of exercises that can help improve your own specific ADHD symptoms.

Exercise for Lack of Focus/Concentration

Is it hard to concentrate on a task long enough to actually get it done?

Yoga might be a good exercise to consider. A 2017 study published in the journal Peer J showed yoga helped children with ADHD improve their focus, concentration and attention.

But yoga is not only an effective treatment for children. The American Psychological Association increasingly sees yoga as an important tool for adults with a wide variety of challenges. The benefits of regular yoga practice — from stronger social ties to reduced anxiety, stress and depression to better sleep — can all greatly benefit adults with ADHD, who are a greater risk for these particular issues.

While there is a larger body of evidence to support the use of yoga for ADHD, experts have also studied tai chi — with its slow, calm, deliberate movements — as a means of improving focus and attention. According to a study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, a group of 8-12 year olds with ADHD showed improvement not only in attention but also impulsive/hyperactive behavior after an eight-week course of tai chi classes. Another study of young adults published in Frontiers magazine found that a course of tai chi produced not only self-reports of improved attention, but also better performance on concentration-related tasks.

Exercise for Excessive Energy

Hyperactivity is one of the symptoms that people tend to think of when they hear the term “ADHD,” particularly in relation to children. Perhaps not surprisingly, a review in the journal Child: Care, Health and Development found that aerobic exercise had a significant impact on symptoms like excessive energy among children with ADHD.

However, aerobic exercise is not just beneficial for ADHD kids. “Adults with ADHD have too much pent up energy — that’s why they call it a hyperactivity disorder,” says Jeffrey Gersent, PsyD, of the Loyola University Health System and Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park, Ill., in a piece in Everyday Health. “Regular vigorous exercise is the best way to use up that energy and relieve ADHD hyperactivity symptoms.”

Exercise for Executive Function Deficits

Planning, management and other executive functions can be a challenging for those with ADHD. If these problems are not addressed in childhood/adolescence, they can persist into adulthood, notes a metanalysis in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. In this analysis, researchers looked at 21 studies that explored the relationship between exercise and executive function in children with ADHD. The analysis found that physical activity helped with self-control, cognitive flexibility and planning skills. The analysis found that a wide variety of exercises — including running, swimming, basketball and exergaming (digital games where players need to move their body to play) — helped with these important life skills.

Again, studies have found that adults with ADHD also show improvement in executive function due to exercise. In a study published in the Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences, researchers studied a group of college-aged adults and found that those who were physically active on a regular basis showed improvements in skills like self-control. A wide variety of activities led to these improvements, including bicycling, walking, jogging and competitive sports.

Since ADHD is not the same for everyone, the exercises that help will not be the same for everyone either. Luckily, there are a wide variety of exercises to choose from that you can tailor to help your own specific symptoms and that can benefit you no matter how old you are.

Sources:

Peer J

The American Psychological Association

Frontiers

Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics

Child: Care, Health and Development

Everyday Health

The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity

The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences

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