Adhd and Exercise

The science of exercise

ADHD almost often coexists with highly destressing cognitive, psychological, and physical problems. Studies suggest that psychological problems may exist in up to 70% of ADHD individuals.

Studies have particularly shown the coexistence of lifelong struggles with anxiety disorders, addictive behaviours, depression, sleep disorders, eating disorders, as well as multiple impulse dyscontrol behaviours, to name a few. These are often missed by untrained medical professionals.

Exercise & ADHD/ ASD

  • Research has suggested that children diagnosed with ADHD are at an increased risk of gross motor developmental delay or the development of their physical capacity, which if left undiagnosed can lead to functional deficits such as coordination, balance, and simple task performance.
  • On average children suffering ADHD have been observed to have lower brain volume in various structures of the brain including the cerebellum which is involved with coordination and skill acquisition as well as the four lobes of the cortex involved in sensory input and interpretation, movement planning and execution, visual interpretation and executive function including inhibition of movement.
  • Evidence has been shown that due to the dynamic nature of ASD and ADHD individuals have become less responsive to standard treatments targeting a particular area, aspect of the condition. However, through specific and targeted prescription of exercise or physical activity research has shown significant positive changes in brain activity that can be utilised alongside medical management to optimise patient outcome.
  • Research, while only emerging in the area has also seen associations with ADHD/ ASD and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) which is increased joint laxity throughout the body. Through targeted and prescribed exercise, we can significantly reduce an individual’s risk of joint sprains and muscle strains.

How can Exercise be used to assist in treating your ADHD/ ASD Diagnosis.

  • Physical assessment can identify functional deficits that are associated with ADHD and ASD
  • Utilising exercise to assist with improved attention and focus across the life span
  • Utilising various modalities and intensities of exercise can assist in key areas such as emotional regulation, social development  
  • Strategic use of exercise throughout the day to optimise ‘arousal’ levels and create structure to facilitate peak cognition
  • Development of self-awareness, emotional regulation can only be achieved when we are aware of how we feel. Utilising exercise, meditation, yoga and other modalities can facilitate a child or adults’ ability to regulate their emotions and optimise cognitive productivity and reduce procrastination.

Benefits to Implementing Regular Physical Activity

  • Development of structure and routine
  • Improved self-esteem and development of social awareness and social skills
  • Improved energy levels
  • Improved sleep patterns/ hygiene
  • Decreased risk of developing comorbid conditions related to compensatory mechanisms for regulation including:
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Obesity
  • Substance Abuse
  • Social Isolation
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