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How the ADHD Brain Benefits From Physical Activity

Have you ever wondered how something as simple as working out could be a key to unlocking the potential of a child with ADHD? Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is a common condition that affects the way kids focus, control their impulses, and interact with the world around them. However, there’s an effective remedy that’s gaining attention: physical activity.

Yes, getting active isn’t just fun; it plays a crucial role in managing ADHD symptoms. Let’s dive into how encouraging children to engage in physical activities can make a significant difference in their lives.

How Does ADHD Manifest in Children?

ADHD affects children in various ways, impacting their daily life and development. It can make it hard for them to focus on tasks, leading to struggles with schoolwork and learning. Their impulsivity may result in difficulties in social interactions, as they might act without thinking, leading to misunderstandings with peers. Additionally, children with ADHD often find it challenging to follow instructions and manage their time effectively, causing frustration and a sense of underachievement. These challenges not only affect academic performance but can also impact their self-esteem and relationships, making everyday activities more demanding than for their peers.

Let’s explore the importance of working with a physical education specialist.

How Working with a Physical Education Specialist Can Help

Incorporating physical activity into a child’s routine can sometimes feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Working with a physical education specialist, particularly one who has pursued their masters in physical education online can be incredibly beneficial. Specialists with an online degree have the advantage of being exposed to the latest, most flexible teaching methodologies from the world over. They are trained to utilize innovative strategies that can engage children in physical activity effectively.

By consulting with a physical education specialist, parents, and caregivers can introduce structured yet fun physical activities into the lives of children with ADHD. These experts can help design routines that not only improve symptoms of ADHD but also instill a lifelong love for staying active.

Enhances Concentration

For kids with ADHD, sitting still and focusing can be a Herculean task. However, lacing up those sneakers and getting active might just be the trick to help them concentrate better. Engaging in physical activity gives your brain a workout.


Exercise increases the flow of blood to the brain, bringing with it oxygen and nutrients that boost performance. This increased blood flow helps sharpen attention and focus, making tasks that require concentration, like homework, a bit easier to tackle.

Improves Mood

Ever noticed how a bout of physical activity leaves you feeling happier and more relaxed? That’s because exercise releases feel-good chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine and serotonin. For children with ADHD, who often have lower levels of these neurotransmitters, physical activity can be a mood booster. It acts as a natural antidepressant, helping to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression that can accompany ADHD. By incorporating regular exercise into their routine, children can enjoy a more positive mood overall.

Improves Sleep Patterns

A good night’s sleep is like a reset button for the brain, especially for those with ADHD. Unfortunately, sleep issues are common among these children, affecting their mood, behavior, and cognitive functions. The good news? Physical activity can help regulate sleep patterns. Engaging in exercise during the day helps expend energy, making it easier to fall asleep at night. Plus, the calming effect of physical exertion can also help reduce bedtime restlessness. A routine that includes plenty of physical activity can pave the way for more restful nights, making days more manageable.

Increases Brain Structure and Function

The benefits of physical activity extend beyond immediate mood or sleep improvements; they can also lead to long-term changes in the brain. Research suggests that regular exercise can increase the size of brain regions involved in executive function and attention, such as the prefrontal cortex. These areas are crucial for planning, decision-making, and impulse control, functions that are often challenging for those with ADHD. By engaging in regular physical activities, children can not only improve their current symptoms but also potentially foster brain development that supports cognitive functions in the long run.

Reduces Impulsive Behavior

Impulsivity is a hallmark of ADHD, leading to actions without much thought to the consequences. Physical activity, especially structured ones like martial arts or team sports, can help teach discipline and patience. The focus required to learn and master a new physical skill can translate into other areas of life, offering children a better handle on their impulses. Regular exercise provides an outlet for excess energy, which can reduce the need for impulsive actions as a way to release that energy. This discipline and energy management can be a valuable tool for children with ADHD, helping them navigate situations with a calmer, more considered approach.

Enhances Academic Performance

The benefits of physical activity extend right into the classroom. It turns out, exercise doesn’t just shape the body; it sharpens the mind too.


Studies have shown that children with ADHD who engage in regular physical activity demonstrate improvements in cognitive functions like memory and attention. These cognitive boosts can translate into better academic performance. Exercise helps in clearing the mind, making it easier for kids to absorb and retain information. It’s like hitting the refresh button on their brain before they tackle learning tasks, leading to improved concentration and a better grasp on their studies.

Boosts Self-esteem

Achieving a goal or improving in a sport can provide a significant confidence boost. For children with ADHD, who may struggle with feelings of inadequacy or frustration due to their symptoms, physical activity offers a way to prove to themselves what they can accomplish. Whether it’s mastering a new skateboarding trick or scoring a goal in soccer, these achievements can make them feel proud and capable. Regular physical activity allows children with ADHD to set goals and work towards them, offering tangible proof of their progress and boosting their self-esteem.

Encourages a Healthy Lifestyle

Instilling a love for physical activity from a young age sets children up for a lifetime of health benefits. Beyond the immediate improvements in ADHD symptoms, regular exercise can help ward off other health issues like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. For children with ADHD, who may be at a higher risk for certain health issues due to their impulsivity with food choices or sedentary tendencies, physical activity encourages habits that contribute to their overall well-being. Teaching them the value of staying active is a gift that keeps on giving, promoting a healthy lifestyle that can support them throughout their lives.


Physical activity is a powerful tool in managing ADHD in children. It offers a wide range of benefits, from improving concentration and mood to enhancing social skills and promoting a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise can transform challenges into strengths, providing children with ADHD the opportunity to shine both in and out of the classroom. By incorporating physical activities into their daily routine and working with dedicated specialists, we can help these children navigate the world with more ease and confidence. Let’s embrace physical activity not just as play, but as a fundamental element in supporting the well-being of children with ADHD, paving the way for a brighter, healthier future.