Exercise: An Alternative ADHD Treatment Without Side Effects

“Think of exercise as medication,” says John Ratey, M.D., an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “For a very small handful of people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD ADD), it may actually be a replacement for stimulants, but, for most, it’s complementary — something they should absolutely do, along with taking meds, to help increase attention and improve mood.”

While most of us focus on exercise as a way to trim our waistlines, the better news is that routine physical activity firms up the brain — making it a simple, alternative ADHD treatment. “Exercise turns on the attention system, the so-called executive functions — sequencing, working memory, prioritizing, inhibiting, and sustaining attention,” says Ratey, author of the forthcoming Sp