We all know that medication, dietary supplements, and therapy sessions are some of the most popular methods used to treat ADHD symptoms. However, one of the most powerful tools for fighting ADHD doesn’t require a prescription, or even a doctor’s visit. It’s exercise.
Not only is exercise good for your physical health, it is also a great way to improve your mental health – especially if you have ADHD. If you haven’t already considered adding exercise as a treatment method, keep reading to learn more about how physical activity can reduce ADHD symptoms and promote a more organized and focused lifestyle.
Neurotransmitters at Work
Every time you exercise, your brain releases neurotransmitters that support important functions such as attention, memory, and cognition. These neurotransmitters include chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, both of which are important chemicals critically linked to the parts of the brain responsible for behavior, motivation, and mood.
For people with ADHD – who often have less dopamine in their brain – this process helps to stimulate the brain and dramatically improve reasoning, problem solving, and planning. In fact, stimulant medicines used to treat ADHD use these same neurotransmitters, which makes exercise a great complementary treatment to traditional ADHD medication.
The Importance of Blood Flow
Another physiological effect of exercising is an increase of blood flow. Many people with ADHD have below-average blood flow, which negatively affects many of their cognitive functions. Exercise activities help to expand blood vessels, increasing blood flow to the brain and improving brain structure and thinking ability. When you exercise, your ADHD brain cells immediately start functioning at a higher level – making you more alert, awake, and focused.
Increased blood flow also makes you more equipped to handle stressful situations. People with ADHD are more vulnerable to stress and anxiety, and exercising is a natural way to increase the body’s ability to manage stress and decrease anxiousness.
People of all ages with ADHD can greatly benefit from incorporating exercise into their treatment routine. If you have a child, encouraging them to participate in activities such as recess and extracurricular sports could significantly help not only their mental health, but also their performance in school. Exercise has been shown to decrease impulsivity and regulate moods in children, resulting in an enhanced learning ability. Even better, it’s fun – making it an easy way to get kids actively engaged in managing their ADHD.
It only takes 30 minutes of exercise, three to four times a week, to combat ADHD symptoms while also taking care of your physical and mental health. When combined with stimulants or dietary supplements, exercise could be key to tackling you or your child’s ADHD and living an active, healthy life.