Exercise as a Treatment for ADHD Among Adults
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is commonly known as a youth affliction, but nearly half of all youth diagnosed continue dealing with ADHD into adulthood. Signs of adult ADHD differ somewhat from youth and include: restlessness; volatile relationships; substance misuse and abuse such as alcohol and other drugs and even cigarettes; difficulty focusing and concentrating at work and even during conversations; continuous procrastination leading to rushed work and nearly missed or missed deadlines; high-risk or dangerous activities such as gambling or speeding; disorganized and continuously misplacing items such as keys, remote control, files, etc.; poor work performance, particularly related to mundane tasks; hot temper, quick to get angry and just as quickly over it; difficulty relaxing; and distracted easily. One highly effective way to reduce symptoms of ADHD among adults is as simple as regular, vigorous exercise, and unlike medications, it costs nothing and the side effects are all positive.
Exercise has been known for a long time to have a highly positive and effective impact on multiple psychological disorders, including depression and anxiety. It also helps improve mood, concentration, memory and stimulates motivation. When you exercise, the brain releases certain chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine, which are known to cause pleasure in the brain while stimulating its overall functioning helping to increase memory and focus. Interestingly, exercise has similar benefits as common medications for ADHD.
- Any vigorous exercise will do: aerobic is best to help ensure prolonged activity and also to help improve cardiovascular health. Aerobic exercises include: long distance jogging or running, power walking, swimming laps, bike ride, completing workout stations in a city park, etc. but feel free to also include anaerobic workouts such as weight lifting and sprinting.
- Develop a daily routine: And by routine, that only means that you should exercises on most days (4-6 days per week), and make that a habit. The actual exercises you do should be ones you enjoy, and feel free to keep trying other exercises to keep you interested and to engage different parts of your body for overall health benefits.
- Find something you enjoy: Do try different activities, such as sports like tennis or shooting hoops. You might even want to sign up for a train to complete a 5k walk/run in your community just to keep things interesting. Maybe you’d have more fun if others joined you, so involve your friends and family.
- Go outside: Being in nature alone can help lift your mood, so consider jogging or power walking in a park or swimming at the beach.
- Workout Journal: Journal your exercising activities, and consider sharing it with a friend or family member to help you stay accountable. Each day write down your exercise activity, how long you did it and where. You may also want to track other data such as your waist, hip, thigh and arm measurements if you are interested in dropping body weight and maybe recording your pulse rate to see improvements in cardiovascular health.
- Personal Journal: Take notice of improvements in your life, your mood, your levels of concentration through this process. Journal about your day, how you feel, your relationships. Note any improvements or even increased difficulties. This is a great tool not only to help you stay motivated as you document improvements but to help you gain introspection and consider other healthy ways to cope and manage difficulties.