Two studies found that, though the effects may be small, exercise seems to have positive effects on reducing problematic symptoms of ADHD.
In the Journal of Attention Disorders, German researchers conducted a systematic review of the literature on the impacts of exercise on people with ADHD. They identified 21 studies examining either acute or long-term effects. “When focusing on long-term health benefits in children and adolescents with ADHD, qualitative exercise characteristics might play an important role,” they wrote.
Kings College London-led researchers conducted a study to see if the benefits of exercise during adolescence benefited people with ADHD years later as young adults. Writing in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, they concluded that, “These findings suggest that (physical activity) in adolescence might decrease ADHD symptoms in early adulthood. However, given the size of the effect, the clinical value of this intervention needs to be explored further.”
Rommel, Anna-Sophie, Paul Lichtenstein, Mina Rydell, Ralf Kuja-Halkola, Philip Asherson, Jonna Kuntsi, and Henrik Larsson. “Is Physical Activity Causally Associated With Symptoms of Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder?” Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Accessed May 15, 2015. doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2015.04.011. (Abstract)
Neudecker, Christina, Nadine Mewes, Anne K. Reimers, and Alexander Woll. “Exercise Interventions in Children and Adolescents With ADHD A Systematic Review.” Journal of Attention Disorders, May 11, 2015, 1087054715584053. doi:10.1177/1087054715584053. (Abstract)