adhdexerciseWhy do we as ADHD adults need to exercise?

With any physical exertion, your brain increases the amount of endorphins, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These chemicals and compounds are basically a “Mood Dial”, that can be controlled by specific actions we take, or activities we do. When we manage our exercise, we do a lot better with managing and even taking advantage of our ADHD.

On a very basic level, this gives all ADHDers an amount of control in how they think and, in the end, behave. In an article before he released his book, Spark, Dr. John Ratey spoke about a school in Colorado that starts the day with 20 minutes of aerobic exercise. “The result is that kids realize they can regulate their mood and attention through exercise,” says Ratey. “That’s empowering.”

We can apply this directly to our own lives. Here are some apps and technologies that can help us with a consistent and meaningful exercise routine:

  • Routine Planning: Make planning ahead a part of your weekly, and daily exercise routine. The popular outdoors brand, The North Face, has released a great little app named Trailhead that displays training routes, and trips that you can use for exercise that are close to you. You can use it to plan your exercise activities in advance, so you can develop your exercise routine.
  •  Progress, Not Perfection: Understand in advance and accept that there will be road bumps along the way. You will miss your opportunity, feel like you can’t go, or maybe just feel that overwhelm start to creep, but the key is to just to pick yourself up and keep going. The Nike+ GPS app is very ADHD-friendly and not only maps your progress, but gives you motivation when you need it.
  • Ease In: Understand that success depends on following your specific system, easing in slowly. We will want to jump in to things with unreasonable expectation, but by taking things considerably slower in increasing your exertion, we can avoid overwhelm, and failure. Exercise won’t always be easy, but do not let a few obstacles get you down. My mantra with this is “Progress Not Perfection”. Get up and just move. Keep moving. A great app to help you get started with your day-to-day fitness routine is Ease into 5K. A visually simple and very ADHD-friendly app that eases you into your workouts and your fitness routine as a whole by slightly increasing the potency of your workouts over months, instead of just jumping in to working out and falling right back out.
  • Track and Measure: Track and Measure your efforts and plan future progress accordingly and incrementally. If you watch and track your activities in life, and keep yourself evolving, you can only grow and flourish! MyFitnessPal is an excellent way to log, track, and analyze your fitness growth, online or on your smartphone, it is simple to use and it is free!
  • Keep Pushing Yourself: Once you have gotten to a point where you are in your exercise routine, you will see immediate changes to your life and your mood. When exercising, using a heart rate monitor will give you a measurable limit to push yourself with. This technology is personally invaluable in my exercise routines.

What technology are you currently using to manage your exercise routine? Please tell us in the comments!


Mark Kawate About Mark Kawate

Mark Kawate is a Business Developer with ADHD and the Founder of and @ADHDApps. Mark also works to build and promote multi-pronged approaches that take advantage of his ADHD, with the goal of furthering the quality of every ADHD life.


  1. Lisa Comingore says:

    Great article! I’ve been using MyFitnessPal for awhile and I love it. Another thing that is helping me is having a walking partner who is a motivator! However, I know we won’t always be able to walk together so I’m excited to learn about some other tools I can use. I really love the mantra “Progress, Not Perfection!” In fact, I think I’m going to make a sign and put it up over my desk to remind me! Thanks again for the great materials.

  2. I am glad you enjoyed the article! I LOVE the saying “Progress, Not Perfection”, as it was a CBT recitation that really made me think about how to further my management approach to ADHD. It is also the title of my newest book! Lol. Thank you for your kind words! Let me know if I can help you in any way. -Mark