Exercise may help adults better cope with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Washington: Even a small amount of exercise may help alleviate symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults, a new study has found.

“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 Patrick O’Connor from University of Georgia (UGA) in the US.

“And while prescription drugs can be used to treat these symptoms, there is an increased risk of abuse or dependence and negative side effects. Those risks do not exist with exercise,” said O’connor.

Researchers tested 32 young men with elevated ADHD symptoms who cycled 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 participants were asked to perform a task requiring focus both before and after the different conditions, and researchers noted leg movement, mood, attention and self-reported motivation to perform the task. Researchers found that it was only after the exercise when the participants felt motivated to do the task.

They also felt less confused and fatigued and instead felt more energetic.
Leg movements and performance on the task did not change after the exercise, rather, the exercise helped the young men feel better about doing the task, researchers said. These findings are consistent with prior research that shows a single bout of exercise helps people feel more energetic, said O’Connor.

The results suggest that young men who have symptoms of ADHD can benefit psychologically from the short workouts, similar to the benefits enjoyed by typical adults who work out, he said. “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,” said Kathryn Fritz from UGA.

“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,” she said.

The findings were published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
Tags: adhd, exercise.