By Jean Rothman Exercise is great for people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). For starters, exercise increases the levels of brain chemicals called dopamine and serotonin, which are lower in people with ADHD.
ADHD and Exercise: How it Helps
“Dopamine and serotonin are enzymes that help people feel good,” says Frank Coppola, a New York City-based ADHD coach. “They regulate things like mood, attention, and anger. So having more rather than less definitely helps someone with ADHD.”
Exercise also helps with alertness and sleep patterns, which can be a problem for people with ADHD, Coppola says. “Exercising tires your body, so you sleep better and feel more focused and alert the next day.”
Exercise helps you relax and quiet your mind as well. “Exercise helps cut down your chance of depression, which can accompany ADHD. It increases oxygen to the brain, improves your eating habits and can help with weight loss,” Coppola says.
Children with ADHD also need to exercise. Just as with adults, exercise increases dopamine and serotonin levels in kids, helping them be more alert and attentive, and tires them out at night, helping with sleep problems.
“Most schools have gym classes or sports teams,” Coppola says. “If your child isn’t getting exercise at school, offer them the chance of after-school activities such as gymnastics, karate, or soccer.”
All in all, exercise is a great prescription for ADHD. So strap on those rollerblades, get out your yoga mat, put on your walking shoes, and have a good time. It’ll feel good.