Adults With ADHD Symptoms Can Manage Better With Exercise: Study
Exercise not only has physical benefits but mental benefits as well. It helps the mind relax and ward off stress and thus, plays an important role in managing mental conditions. According to a recent study by the University of Georgia (UGA), even brief sessions of exercise can help adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in alleviating the symptoms.
Symptoms of ADHD can be quite nagging and destructive. But they can be managed well with the right intervention and exercise is one of them.
Symptoms of ADHD can be widely categorized into three groups:
Symptoms of ADHD in adults
The researchers of the study highlighted that about 6 percent adults in the United States who did not exhibit any ADHD symptoms during childhood suffer from this disorder. It often leads to problems like anxiety, depression, low energy, motivation, poor performance at work or school and traffic accidents, the researchers said. ADHD symptoms in adults are so subtle that it is usually difficult to decipher, compared to children, with whom the signs are quite palpable.
Some of the symptoms of adult ADHD include:
• trouble getting organized
• marital problems
• extremely distractible
• restlessness, and trouble relaxing
• poor listening skills
• trouble starting a task
• angry outbursts
• prioritizing issues
People often dismiss these symptoms as normal everyday issues, assuming that they would go away over time. On the contrary, if overlooked for a prolonged period, these symptoms can snowball into bigger issues.
Exercise can be beneficial
The study, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise in June 2016, revealed that even a single bout of exercise has psychological benefits for adults with these elevated ADHD symptoms.
“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 senior author of the study Patrick O’Connor and professor in the UGA College of Education’s kinesiology department.
Even though these symptoms can be managed with medications, exercise has some benefits over them. “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,” added O’Connor.
The researchers chose 32 young men with elevated symptoms of ADHD who were asked to cycle at a moderate speed for 20 minutes on one day and were made to sit and rest for 20 minutes as a control condition.
Then the participants were asked to perform a task requiring focus both before and after the different conditions. And the researchers then noted the leg movement, mood, attention and self-reported motivation to perform the task.
They found that it was only after the exercise that the participants felt motivated to do the task. They felt less confused and fatigued after the brief exercise session and even felt more energetic. Another interesting finding was that the leg movements and performance on the task did not alter after the exercise and instead the exercise made them feel better about performing the task.
The findings were in conformity with previous researches that say that even a single bout of exercise is associated with a surge in energy level in people.
“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 study co-author Kathryn Fritz, a UGA doctoral student who completed the study as part of her master’s thesis.
Mental health conditions like ADHD, anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar or schizophrenia should not be relegated for treatment at a later date. Delay can severely impair the conditions and lead to further complications.
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