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Exercise provides a short-term improvement for ADHD

Study reveals the short-term improvements for group of men diagnosed with ADHD. 

Moderate exercise improves symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a study exploring the effects of exercise on the condition. 32 men age 18 to 32 who had been diagnosed with ADHD were asked to self-report on their symptoms.

A proportion of them were asked to engage in moderate exercise involving 20 minutes of cycling.

Compared to a group who had not exercised, these individuals had increased motivation to do complicated mental work, their energy levels were significantly improved and feeling of fatigue reduced after the exercise. In addition, their feelings of depression were significantly reduced.

The exercise did not, however, reduce levels of tension and anger. The men showed no sign of improvement in their cognitive outcomes and there was no measured effect on hyperactivity levels.

Limited time

...

Moderate exercise improves symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a study exploring the effects of exercise on the condition. 32 men age 18 to 32 who had been diagnosed with ADHD were asked to self-report on their symptoms.

ADHD and exercise
Report reveals moderate exercise can help ADHD. Picture: iStock

A proportion of them were asked to engage in moderate exercise involving 20 minutes of cycling.

Compared to a group who had not exercised, these individuals had increased motivation to do complicated mental work, their energy levels were significantly improved and feeling of fatigue reduced after the exercise. In addition, their feelings of depression were significantly reduced.

The exercise did not, however, reduce levels of tension and anger. The men showed no sign of improvement in their cognitive outcomes and there was no measured effect on hyperactivity levels.

Limited time 

The improvements that were noted only lasted for a limited time – mood and motivation improvements, for example, lasted 45 minutes.

The study is encouraging because it has raised awareness of the fact that exercise can have an immediate, short-term effect on some symptoms of ADHD. Further research is now to be undertaken on the effects of longer-term exercise regimes and whether the amount of medication these young men take could be reduced.


Fritz K, O’Connor P (2016) Acute Exercise improves mood and motivation in young men with ADHD symptoms. Medical Science Sports Exercise. 48, 6, 1153-1160. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000000864. 

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