Exercise, even a small amount, can help alleviate symptoms of ADHD in adults, according to a study by UGA researchers.
They found that a single bout of exercise has psychological benefits for adults with elevated ADHD symptoms. About 6 percent of American adults report symptoms consistent with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, which leads to anxiety, depression, low energy and motivation, poor performance at work or school and also increased traffic accidents.
“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 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. 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.
As a result, 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 more energetic.