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ADHD-Friendly tips for maintaining an exercise routine

AdobeStock 125657677Starting an exercise routine is one thing, but maintaining that routine is a challenge and can seem impossible if you have ADHD. Harvard Health recently reviewed a study which found regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping, appears to boost areas in the brain that are involved in verbal memory and learning.

Here are some of our favorite stick-with-it strategies:

  • Set small achievable goals: Even though you may want to start with a full 30 minutes of exercise daily, let you goal be 15 minutes every other day. Anything you achieve on top of that will be icing on the cake. You can gradually work yourself up to 20-30 minutes.
  • Don’t allow yourself to give up: If you don’t get to exercise at the allotted time, don’t give up for the day. Find 15 minutes somewhere else, even at 11:30 PM at night. If you can’t walk outside or make it to the gym, do some jumping jacks, push-ups, or lunges in your room. You’ll feel better and can say you accomplished your goal for the day!
  • Track your workouts old-school style:  Hang up a calendar and mark an “X” on the days you completed your exercise. You don’t have to put a specific time or activity. Use this method so it’s always in your face does not get lost among the distractions from your smartphone.
  • Involve a friend or family member: Share your goals and why you want to start exercising. Make a plan to check in each week and remind each other why you started this new routine.
  • Make fitness fun: Instead of just starting an “exercise routine” think of it as starting a new hobby or learning a new skill. Take classes for dance or martial arts, join a hiking club, or volunteer at shelter walking dogs. Keep trying new things until you find something you look forward to doing.
  • Hire a professional: If you continue to struggle with creating your own routine, you may want to consider hiring an ADHD Coach or Personal Trainer to keep you on track.

Before starting an exercise routine, consult with your physician to ensure you are medically able to participate. You want to minimize the risk of injury and consider any limitations.

The most important thing is to have fun.  Choose activities that challenge you but that you enjoy!