ADHD can make it hard for individuals (both children and adults) to pay attention, finish tasks and control their emotions.
Often, individuals with ADHD are prescribed long term medication to control these symptoms, referred for therapy sessions, appointments with doctors and other specialists.
However, there is one form of treatment that doesn’t require a script or a referral. Best yet, it is free and offers many other health benefits.
What exactly is this magical treatment? Exercise, of course. There is so much positive research into the benefits of exercise for those with ADHD.
But, how exactly does exercise help?
Firstly, let’s look at the relationship between regular exercise and the brain. When we exercise, our brain releases certain neurotransmitters and hormones that have a positive influence on our emotions, thought processes and our ability to focus.
Specifically, our brain releases more of a neurotransmitter called Dopamine when we exercise. This is an important factor to consider, because often people with ADHD will be prescribed medication to help increase Dopamine levels within the body. However, if we exercise regularly, our body is naturally doing the job of raising Dopamine levels without the need for medication.
Regular exercise also has the potential to increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor. These are little proteins within the brain that have the ability to increase learning and long-term memory function.
Regular exercise also has the potential to help with:
Relieving anxiety and tension.
Increasing executive decision making and clarity of thought.
Improve the ability to plan, organise and remember details.
Reduce the risk of developing chronic health conditions such as Obesity.
Improve day to day happiness.
How much exercise is recommended?
This is a tough question to answer, because we are all at different levels of fitness, with different health considerations. In a perfect world, we should aim to exercise for at least 150 minutes per week, mixing cardiovascular and strength training across each session. However – something is better than nothing!
If you are currently not exercising, start with just 30 minutes a week, and see if you can build on that across time. Remember, even 10 minutes per day has the potential to help. This can be as simple as a walk around the block.
Do you need help starting? Consider starting with an Exercise Physiologist so they can provide you with an individualised and appropriate exercise plan specific to your needs.