How Exercise Helps Executive Function

Research confirms that regular exercise can have benefits for individuals with executive function disorders such as ADHD.The benefits come from the way that exercise affects brain function.

Exercise and Executive Function – The Inside Story

During exercise, the brain produces more dopamine and norepinephrine. Both of these brain chemicals play vital roles in thinking and attention. In this sense, exercise has an affect similar to that of stimulant medications.

Exercise may also increase:

  • Vagal nerve stimulation
  • Brain-derived neurotrophic factor – a protein involved in learning and memory
  • Neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to form or modify neural connections
  • Blood flow to the brain

In addition, many of these effects may be cumulative. When you exercise regularly over time, the brain adapts to these changes to produce better results.

The Benefits of Exercise

Exercise has many health benefits. It can help you:

  • Reduce your weight and maintain a healthy weight
  • Reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer
  • Maintain blood pressure and cholesterol levels in a normal range
  • Strengthen your bones.

But for individuals with conditions that affect executive functioning, exercise can also:

  • Ease stress and anxiety and provide a sense of greater well being
  • Improve impulse control and reduce compulsive behavior
  • Enhance working memory
  • Improve the ability to plan, organize, and remember details

What to Consider in Setting Up an Exercise Routine

There are a number of factors you  may want to consider in setting up an exercise regime, including:

  • Your personal interests and motivation
  • The frequency and level of exercise
  • Team vs. non-team types of exercise
  • Any physical constraints you might have.

And, of  course currently, any limitations imposed by the ongoing pandemic.

Here is some additional information on selecting the exercise program that could work bet for you.



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