Studies show that exercise can be just as effective as stimulant medications for treating ADHD. Exercise triggers the brain to release dopamine and serotonin, which improves mood, reduces stress and anxiety, enhances working memory, executive function, impulse control, learning and memory.
However, for women with ADHD sticking to an exercise routine can be challenging, especially when it feels like a struggle just to get through the day.
So what’s a girl to do? Below are 7 tips.
1. Start Small
Don’t commit to working out 7 days a week when you know from experience typically 2 days is more realistic. Start with something so easy you can’t say no. Celebrate your small accomplishments. Even taking a 20 minute walk around the block can help you get your mind right.
2. Make yourself a priority
Women with ADHD have a tendency to be people pleasers and put the needs of others first. Take care of yourself so you can be better for the people in your life. For new moms even small workouts can go a long way for mental sanity. Make yourself a priority whenever possible.
3. Find an activity that is fun for YOU
The best exercise is the activity that makes you feel the most energized and body positive. Let go of the pressure to do a certain type of workout because it is “ideal for weight loss” etc. If you have ADHD, you know that trying harder or forcing ourselves to do something doesn’t work. If you hate running and prefer Bhangra Dancing, do you!
4. Mix it up
Satisfy your natural curiosity and need to explore by experimenting and trying new things. One way to do this is ClassPass – an app that gives you access to thousands of different group fitness classes in your area so you don’t have to commit to one gym or studio. If you’re on a tight budget, check out Greatist’s best free workout videos on YouTube.
5. Ditch your inner critic
Women with ADHD tend to be really hard on ourselves. You may have a voice in your head saying “I should be able to stick to a routine,” “it shouldn’t be this hard.” Ditch your inner critic and forgive yourself if you’re not sticking with something consistently. Let go of the all or nothing mindset and remember that every little bit counts. Perhaps it’s parking four blocks further away from work. or taking the stairs. Having a pedometer and tracking steps. That can be something just very simple and easy visual to see.
6. 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.
7. On the days when you just can’t even…
Living with ADHD can be draining. If there are some days you just need to relax and rest, do it. Listen to your body, deep down you always know what’s best for you.
- Depression-Busting Exercise Tips For People Too Depressed To Exercise -The Establishment
- 3 Simple Ways to Make Exercise a Habit – James Clear
- 10 reasons you should never get a gym membership – Complex
- Exercise is ADHD medication – The Atlantic
- Adult ADHD and Exercise – WebMD
About the Authors:
Natalie Joffe AADP is a certified nutrition coach passionate about helping her clients transform their lives. Based in Seattle, Natalie works with clients locally and out of state, and enjoys leading customized wellness retreats. With two ADHD siblings, she has firsthand experience with the unique health and wellness challenges associated with the condition.
Margaux Joffe is the Founder of Kaleidoscope Society and a certified YogaFit instructor. She is passionate about empowering fellow women with ADHD. She keeps her ADHD in check through yoga and walking around Lake Merritt in Oakland.