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ADHD and exercise

Community Member

I have recently been diagnosed with ADHD at 41 and am 2 months into a 14 month waitlist to see a psychiatrist to be medicated. I have recently joined a gym and PT to try and combat my gradual weight gain and hopefully help reduce and balance ADHD symptoms with exercise induced dopamine. However, today I had a huge meltdown over being frustrated about not enjoying it and had to leave the gym early because I just felt like shit. It was a borderline panic attack. I dislike it so much, it is so boring and unstimulating but also anxiety inducing over not knowing what to do, and it feels like the PT doesn't get how bored and anxious I am. I also have a very unhealthy set of negative core beliefs that I am combatting constantly regarding my body image and worthiness and loveability that the gym seems to trigger. Anyone else out there with ADHD find they don't get any dopamine or endorphins from exercise, or is my brain just broken and this is yet another thing I just have to put up with? 

2 Replies 2

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, welcome 


We talk a lot here about being fair to yourself. Currently you've been just diagnosed and waiting for a professional appointment and possible medication. So you are at the beginning if a journey so please give yourself a chance to adapt.


I was incorrectly diagnosed with ADHD in 2003 and for 6 years took a dozen medications 1 at a time and none helped hence another diagnosis of bipolar. During that 6 years I carried out much study on ADHD beginning with the book "ADHD in adults" by Weiss. I then read that physical exercise can reduce symptoms to a degree. Certainly a topic to discuss with your professional. And that's my strongest message that you will feel better, more balanced emotionally and finally accept your illness and that's when you'll feel good. That road can be bumpy as all mental health issues can be.


Have you thought about any positives with ADHD?  There is, being over energetic you can accomplish more, remain fit due to being capable of working hard. Creativity is also commonly present, inventiveness and high emotion leading to acting, poetry and adventurism.


Regardless of me having all that (but not having ADHD) I wouldn't be without those unique abilities. 


How boring life would be.



Community Member

Yes, 110% ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ. Iโ€™ve sever ADHD and get absolutely 0 dopamine from any exercise that induces anxiety about anything let alone my body. Going the gym has honestly only hurt my mental health in the past due to my own body image issues.

what has helped my mental health/increased my dopamine exponentially has been discovering what things I do really enjoy and respond to, and regularly doing them.


For myself, itโ€™s Arts and Crafts. Our entire upstairs living room is my craft room now. I paint, draw, die-cut vinyl, flip furniture and recently taught myself to sew. I am so blessed to have an amazing boyfriend that understands this and actually reminds me and helps me to carve out a portion of my time most days to do some sort of arts and craft. 

I hope my tiny bit of insight helps you in someway