Can Physical Exercise Help People with ADHD?

By Stephen V. Faraone

Animal studies clearly show that physical exercise helps with brain development and improves behaviors known to be impaired in ADHD people.  Some studies in humans are consistent with this, but the data are weaker.  Studies using exercise to treat ADHD suggest that moderate to vigorous physical activity improve behavior and cognition in ADHD people. This work was recently summarized in a meta-analysis by Vysniauske and colleagues.



Vysniauske, R., Verburgh, L., Oosterlaan, J. & Molendijk, M. L. (2016). The Effects of Physical Exercise on Functional Outcomes in the Treatment of ADHD: A Meta-Analysis. J Atten Disord.


Halperin, J. M., Berwid, O. G. & O’Neill, S. (2014). Healthy Body, Healthy Mind?: The Effectiveness of Physical Activity to Treat ADHD in Children. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am 23, 899-936.