ADHD’s Magic Pill – Why Exercise Helps Control ADHD

by | Feb 11, 2016 | ADHD Symptom Control | 2 comments

exercise helps control adhdYou know you need to get up and get moving, but do you do it? Probably not. Would it make a difference if you knew that exercise helps control ADHD?

Inactivity has become the new smoking. Exercise is good for your heart, blood pressure, and bones.

If you’ve got ADHD, exercise becomes even more important. Consider exercise like an ADHD magic pill.

Here’s why….

Exercise immediately helps control ADHD symptoms.  Sure it’ll help you live a couple of years longer like it does for everyone else. But the big exercise news for helping ADHD is that you get an immediate payback.

That’s important so I’ll say it again. Exercise right now and your brain will work better for the rest of the day.

  • Your ADHD won’t be as bad.
  • You’ll focus better.
  • You’ll find it easier to learn the skills to manage your ADHD symptoms.

Pretty amazing stuff!

(There are even some ADHD coaches out there who won’t work with clients who don’t exercise. That’s pretty extreme to me. I understand how hard it is for ADHD adults to get motivated to exercise.)

Why Exercise Helps Control ADHD Symptoms

Here’s a simple science lesson to help you understand why ADHD adults need to exercise.

Dopamine is a brain chemical essential for focusing, paying attention and finishing tasks.

Attention deficit is a problem of the brain not having enough dopamine or not being able to use the dopamine that’s there.  

Dr. John Ratey, of Driven To Distraction fame, has done lots of research on exercise and the brain.

Dr Ratey has found that exercise immediately increases the dopamine levels the ADHD brain lacks. Especially exercise that requires complex movements.

ADHD medications don’t MAKE dopamine. They use what’s there. You need to take action to produce dopamine so your medication will work.

Got that? Not enough dopamine in your brain and your ADHD medication won’t work as well.

What if you don’t take ADHD medication? Your brain still needs dopamine. Exercise is a great way to get it.

How Much Exercise do You Need?

Aim for about 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, five days a week. I said aim for. If you can’t do the 30 minutes do anything. Walk up and down the stairs. Run in place for a few minutes. Dance.

Take the ADHD magic pill. Get up and get moving.

Not because it might help you live two years longer. But because exercise helps control ADHD symptoms so you can focus. When you’re focused, organizing and finishing stuff aren’t so hard to do.



  1. Tom Dooley


    Great blog post- thanks for your valuable input on this. It’s so important that all of us ADDers really get the importance of aerobic exercise. Prescribed meds definitely help many of us with our symptoms- add exercise to that, and we’re now tapping in to our body’s own pharmacy. It can make all the difference.

    Another excellent benefit- it can boost our self-confidence!

    Tom D.

    • Dana Rayburn

      Thanks for checking in, Tom. Checking into our body’s own pharmacy is a great way to put it.



  1. Which Exercise is Best for ADD Adults - […] (You can read more about why you have to exercise to control your ADHD symptoms here.)  […]
  2. Why I'm Frustrated by my ADHD Symptoms - Dana Rayburn ADHD Coach - […] ADHD-Day, most times I can pinpoint the problem. Usually, it’s not enough sleep or exercise. Or, too much sugar…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Welcome to ADHD Success

Tired of struggling with ADHD? You’re in the right place. ADHD Success is loaded with free, practical tips to help you get organized, manage your time, and live more easily with Adult ADHD. Like what you read? Sign up for the newsletter now! No Spam. I promise!

Like Dana on Facebook: