Living with ADHD is a unique journey, often filled with daily challenges. While medications and therapy play vital roles in managing this condition, exercise can be a game-changer.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that affects thousands of people worldwide. While it is often diagnosed in childhood, it can persist into adulthood and impact a person's life in numerous ways, presenting challenges in various aspects of life.
Picture a life with ADHD: restlessness, impulsivity, and a constant wrestling match for focus. For women, this journey takes on an even more stressful form. Females with ADHD are more often diagnosed with predominantly inattentive type ADHD instead of the hyperactive-impulsive type more often seen in males. Since the hippocampus is generally larger in females than it is in males, it plays a major role in learning and memory which affects the attention span of a human directly.
In this guide, we will explore a range of exercises specifically tailored for women with ADHD. These exercises are designed to empower and enhance well-being.
The Importance of Exercise in ADHD
Before delving into specific exercises, let's first understand why exercise is crucial for managing ADHD symptoms in women.
Boosts Dopamine and Norepinephrine
It stimulates the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine, which are often imbalanced in people with ADHD. These chemicals play a vital role in regulating attention, focus, and mood. Regular exercise helps restore this balance, making it easier to manage symptoms.
Enhances Brain Structure
Exercise promotes the growth of new brain cells and strengthens the connections between them. This process, known as neuroplasticity, can improve cognitive function, memory, and executive function—all of which are areas where individuals with ADHD often struggle. “Physical movement improves mental focus, memory, and cognitive flexibility”. (James Hamblin)
Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Women with ADHD are more prone to experiencing stress and anxiety. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, which are natural stress and anxiety reducers. This can help individuals with ADHD feel calmer, more focused, and less overwhelmed.
ADHD symptoms can disrupt daily routines, leading to inconsistent sleep patterns and unhealthy habits. Incorporating exercise into your daily schedule helps establish a routine, which can lead to better time management and overall stability.
Improves Sleep Quality
Sleep problems are common among individuals with ADHD.Regular exercise can help regulate sleep patterns, leading to better quality sleep, which in turn can improve focus and attention during the day.
Provides a Healthy Outlet
ADHD can lead to frustration and impulsive behaviour. Exercise serves as a healthy outlet for pent-up energy and emotions, reducing the risk of impulsive decisions or outbursts.
Empowering Exercises for Women with ADHD
Yoga combines physical movement with mindfulness and deep breathing. The practice of yoga can help improve focus and reduce anxiety. As you flow through various poses, you learn to be present in the moment, which is invaluable for managing ADHD symptoms. Finding what works for you in yoga and practising mindfulness every day for 15 minutes can help boost your energy. Some yoga poses that can help:
- Cobra pose aka Bhujangasana
- Cat-cow pose aka Bitilasana Marjaryasana
- Downward-facing dog aka Adho Mukha Shvanasana
- Tree pose aka Vrikshasana
Engaging in cardiovascular activities like jogging, cycling, or dancing can be particularly beneficial for women with ADHD. These exercises increase blood flow to the brain, improving alertness and cognitive function. The rhythmic nature of cardio workouts can also be soothing and help with emotional regulation.
Strength training exercises, such as weightlifting or bodyweight exercises, can help improve executive function and impulse control. These workouts require focus and discipline, which can translate into better self-regulation in daily life. Additionally, the sense of accomplishment from progressing in strength training can boost self-esteem.
Sometimes, a simple walk can work wonders. Engage in mindful walking by paying close attention to each step and your surroundings. This exercise helps in grounding yourself, reducing impulsivity, and enhancing your ability to concentrate. You can do it anywhere, making it an easily accessible daily routine.
Tai Chi is a gentle, flowing martial art that combines movement and deep breathing. It has been shown to improve attention, reduce hyperactivity, and enhance overall well-being in individuals with ADHD. Its slow, deliberate motions encourage mindfulness and relaxation.
Swimming is an excellent exercise choice for women with ADHD. The water provides a soothing environment that can help calm racing thoughts and reduce stress. Swimming also engages the whole body, promoting physical fitness and mental focus simultaneously.
Make it an adventure
Women with ADHD are natural-born explorers. Harness this strength by turning exercise into an adventure. Take a hike or explore a new area of your city by walking, biking, or running. Let your ADHD mind be stimulated by the colors, sights, and sounds around you.
Exercise can be an important tool kit in your journey with ADHD. Here are some tips that can help you be consistent with it:
1. Keep it interesting - keep changing the form of exercise that you do. Week 1: You can focus on swimming the next you can take a nature walk.
2. Find an exercise partner or workout buddy who can help you stay on track and it will also help you build social connections.
3. Notice when you feel more energetic in the morning or evening and try to exercise during that time.
4. Create a plan or routine for your workout.
Living with ADHD can be challenging, but incorporating regular exercise into your routine can make a world of difference. Remember that managing ADHD is a journey, and exercise is just one tool in your toolbox. Seek support from healthcare professionals, therapists, and support groups to create a comprehensive plan for managing your ADHD.
Exercise emerges as your compass, helping you navigate your thoughts and emotions. Your adventure begins with that very first step towards a brighter, more vibrant you. So, are you ready to embrace it?
At Rocket Health, we provide online psychotherapy that is judgement-free and highly effective. Schedule a session with our mental health experts today to devise treatment plans that are individualised and highly effective.