Exercise for ADHD
Exercise, specifically gymnastics is a wonderful tool to help manage ADHD symptoms. One of my favorite quotes from the character Elle Woods in Legally Blonde is,
Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”
While her reasoning may not stand up in a true court of law, the benefits of exercise are well understood for health in general. Particularly in ADHD, exercise is a healthy way to give the brain a needed boost of the dopamine that is deficient. Gymnastics is a fantastic sport for ADHD.
Improved behavior and focus
Little bit has been fortunate to practically grow up at the gymnastics studio. Biggs was already practicing there regularly when Little Bit was born. Biggs has since progressed to the competitive level, which means many hours in the gym each week. Little Bit started independent gymnastics classes as soon as she turned 3. I was a little worried about her ability to focus, pay attention and follow direction. Despite being somewhat distractible, she has been blessed with patient coaches that have engaged her and encouraged her to thrive. As her hours in the gym have increased, her behavior at home has improved as well.
Besides being a great form of exercise, gymnastics also includes an important factor of crossing the midline, which can help form certain pathways in the brain that are particularly beneficial for kids with ADHD. Check out this article for suggestions on other great sports to try.
We try to incorporate a little gymnastics practice in our daily routine at home. Advancing skills is just an added bonus to the benefit of exercise. The mental challenge required for skills, plus the crossing the midline is huge for focus and brain connections. Minimal equipment is needed to gain the benefits. Many days we just find a fun way to get in some form of conditioning or strength.
Equipment for the invested
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For those that want to seriously pursue gymnastics, here are some of the favorite pieces of equipment that we have in our home. Of course all practice should be under proper supervision. A properly trained coach should teach new skills.
This beam was great to start the basics on. Biggs still uses it to gain confidence on occasion when starting to practice a more advanced skill. Since then, we have added this beam. It is fantastic to have the option to be low to the ground when building confidence on a skill. It can also raise up higher to be more like a regular beam for building confidence for basic skills. More advanced skills at home would be best at the lowest setting for safety.
We love this bar, which has been amazing at home for the basics. Having the bar definitely made Little Bit gain strength for bars skills earlier than most. It was still sturdy enough for my 60lb competitive daughter to be able to practice her kips and back hip circles. The bar isn’t appropriate much beyond limited level 4 skills. Higher level skills are best practiced at the gym with proper coaching.
This air track is amazing to make some basic tumbling passes a little easier on the joints. We went big and got the 23ft track to be able to complete a 3 skill tumbling pass. The line down the middle can also be used for some beam skills.
Check out some of our other natural ADHD management tools here. To follow our journey of empowered ADHD living and gymnastics, follow me on Facebook or Pinterest.
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The content in this post is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is merely opinion based on personal research and experience.