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How Exercise Helps With Adult ADHD

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Author: Shernide Delva

Hate Exercising?

Well, you might want to ignore this article, especially if you struggle with ADHD. We are basically going to tell you another awesome benefit of exercise and try to convince you to do it on a regular basis again.  Maybe today is the day you reconsider…

Exercising regularly can be overwhelming at first, but it does not have to be. Turns out, exercise, even a small amount, can alleviate symptoms of ADHD in adults. According to a new study conducted at the University of Georgia, exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms of ADHD in adults.

Close to 6 percent of Americans report symptoms consistent with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Over time, untreated symptoms of ADHD can lead to anxiety, depression, low energy, motivation and poor performance at work or school.

The good news is even a small amount of physical activity can help with these symptoms of ADHD.  The study was released this month in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. The study found that even a single bout of exercise has psychological benefits for adults with ADHD symptoms.

“Exercise is already known as a stress reducer and mood booster, so it really has the potential to help those suffering with ADHD symptoms,” said the study’s senior author Patrick O’Connor, professor in the UGA College of Education’s kinesiology department. “And while prescription drugs can be used to treat these symptoms, there’s an increased risk of abuse or dependence and negative side effects. Those risks don’t exist with exercise.”

The study conducted at the University of Georgia tested 32 young men with elevated ADHD symptoms.  The men would cycle at a moderate intensity for 20 minutes on one day, and on another day sat and rested for 20 minutes as a control condition. The men were asked to perform a task that required focus before and after the different conditions and researchers noted leg movement, mood, attention and motivation to complete the task.

The results revealed that exercise helped participants feel more motivated to complete tasks. Participants felt significantly less confused and fatigued and instead felt more energetic. Although exercise did not change the task, it helped the young men feel better about doing the task.

These findings are consistent with research done in the past which stated exercise helps people feel more energetic. The new results in this study confirm that symptoms of ADHD can benefit psychologically from short workouts.

“The reduced feelings of confusion and increased motivation to perform a cognitive task suggest that other types of acute exercise also may benefit cognitive performance,” added study co-author Kathryn Fritz, a UGA doctoral student who completed the study as part of her master’s thesis. “We speculate that a different mode or duration or intensity of exercise, other than a boring cycle ride in a sterile lab, may show larger cognitive effects for those suffering from ADHD symptoms.”

All of us are probably aware of the benefits of exercise; however most of us do not get enough. This study is promising because it shows that even the smallest amount of exercise, just 20 minutes, is sufficient to produce benefits in our cognitive function

Just 20 minutes of exercise added to your day can make the difference in how you perform on a physical and cognitive level. If you suffer from ADHD, try adding an exercise routine into your lifestyle. It can be as simple as ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes at night. Quick jogs around the neighborhood would be enough, or try something like cycling. Workout videos are great ways to fit in workouts when you are limited on time and do not feel like leaving your house.

Addiction and ADHD are often correlated and changing your lifestyle can be the answer you need to make the early stages of recovery a much smoother process. ADHD affects all areas of life, so it is important to get those symptoms under control.  If you are struggling with addiction or mental health issues, give us a call. We can help.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

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