ADHD Counseling: benefits of walking

As mammals, we all benefit from being outside and moving our bodies on a regular basis. For people with ADHD, spending time outside daily and exercising is necessary to support emotional regulation and other executive function challenges. Walking is a great way to take care of both of these baseline needs. One can also call a friend while walking outside, adding a badly needed social interaction during the pandemic.

Daily Walks

This article talks about how daily walks can make people feel better, especially during the pandemic lock-downs. When we walk, “oxygen saturation and blood vessel growth occur in areas of the brain associated with rational thinking as well as social, physical and intellectual performance”.  In addition, “exercise reduces stress hormones and increases serotonin and norepinephrine, chemicals in the brain which are known to accelerate information processing.”

“During and after exercise, endorphins and dopamine – more feel-good chemicals – are released into the body and brain, usually with mood-boosting effects.”

Bilateral Stimulation

“A specific benefit of walking is that it is bilaterally stimulating, which can lead to a clearer mind. Bilateral stimuli occur in a rhythmic left-right pattern, like walking or following a tennis ball with your eyes.”

In Brainspotting therapy, we use bilateral music to support neuroexperiential processing during sessions.

“It is thought that if we process information whilst bilaterally stimulating the brain, we maximise our processing capacity, meaning that thinking and problem-solving is far more effective when we are walking.”

Increase in Energy

According to the article, the increased oxygenated blood flow throughout the body and the brain that occurs during walking, helps people feel more energized.

“It’s important to remember that physical activity does not need to be intense to be generally considered to be beneficial in reducing the risk of clinical depression, and walking can be just enough.”

How long should one walk for? “… it should be for a minimum of 20 minutes as that is the time it takes for the ‘feel-good hormones’ like dopamine and serotonin to be stimulated and released.”

Elaine Korngold specializes in ADHD counseling to help clients learn which executive functions are challenging for them, process past trauma, and develop tools for additional support.