Can exercise help me focus if I have attention deficit disorder (ADD)?

One of the best ways to increase your attention and focus if you have attention deficit disorder (ADD) is to exercise. Getting active is the best cure for hyperactivity.

You may have become dismissive of your hyperactivity, seeing it only as a regrettable flaw. It isn't a flaw, you have a genuine need to stay highly active.

You may feel like you need to be moving to think. Many adults with ADD do. For some people, thinking and inspiration seem to be visceral activities -- activities that are rooted in the body. When you move your body, you may be able to think more clearly or with more focus. Or your mind may wander as your body does, allowing you to mentally cover a lot of ground, thus enhancing your creativity. Many people who have gone on to be athletes, were once thought to be "hyperactive."

Imagine that your abilities to think and plan and understand the world all have a bodily component. As you move, so you think. Now picture a small child in a playpen. Such a child's mind and body can wander and wonder only so far before being frustrated by environmental boundaries. Now imagine that same small child able to move freely, stay active, roam around and forge a certain inner depth that will later become the architecture of their abstract thinking. Even as adults we have the capacity to expand our mental capacity through physical extension.

Research supports that exercise increases focus and attention. In fact exercise can increase executive function and your ability to respond to stress. In Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, Ratey and Hagerman point out that exercise increases the same neurotransmitters that most ADHD medications increase. The authors write "the attention circuits are jointly regulated by the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine…," and that these are the chemicals targeted by most ADHD medications.

In this way, you can think of exercise as a way to increase your attention and focus with the side effects of getting more fit and healthy!

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.