Exercise May Alleviate ADHD Symptoms

MARCH 20, 2017
Ryan Marotta, Assistant Editor
A recent study has indicated that even small amounts of exercise can have psychological benefits for adults who experience attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms.
The study, published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, evaluated 32 young men with elevated ADHD symptoms by having them cycle at a moderate intensity for 20 minutes on one day and sitting for 20 minutes on another day. The participants were also asked to perform a task requiring focus both before and after exercising or sitting, with the researchers taking note of leg movement, mood, attention, and self-reported motivation.
The research team found that the participants felt motivated to complete the task only after they exercised; they also felt less confused and fatigued, as well as more energized, after exercise. The study authors noted that exercise had no effect on leg movements or performance on the task, but instead helped the patients feel better about doing the task.
“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, PhD, in a press release. “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.”