ADHD Exercises

People with ADHD are easily distracted and have a short attention span for subjects that do not interest them. They also typically struggle with organizational skills, impulse control and time management. On the upside, bright people with ADHD often show great creativity and flexibility in their thinking, and their high energy can lead to immense productivity. To take advantage of these assets, however, it is important for people with ADHD to find ways of coping with the negative aspects of the disorder. Exercises that target short-term memory and organizational skills can help.

Coin Game

This is a memory game that helps build short-term memory and concentration. You need at least two people, a stopwatch and a set of various coins, such as:

  • pennies
  • dimes
  • nickels
  • quarters

One person arranges the coins in a particular sequence, say, nickel, dime, dime, penny, quarter. The other person is allowed to look at the coins for a set amount of time before they are covered. Once the coins are covered, the stopwatch is set, and the other player tries to put her coins into the same sequence. Record how long it takes to measure improvement over time. The difficulty of this game can be changed easily by increasing or reducing the number of coins. For a similar game, call out a series of numbers or letters; this will make the game auditory rather than visual. Other games that might help build attention span include the matching card game Memory and the electronic game Simon.


Physical exercise might help reduce ADHD symptoms in much the same way as Ritalin and other medications prescribed for the disorder, according to 125. Exercise, like ADHD medications, helps boost the brain's supply of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin—neurotransmitters that facilitate concentration and attention span. For greatest results, exercise several times a day, even if it is just a walk or running in place.


Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, requires and builds the ability to focus, process directions and proceed according to a specific sequence. Once certain configurations are learned, origami might help some students keep fidgety hands busy while they listen to a classroom lesson, according to "Additude," an online ADD magazine 3.

Coordination Exercises

Coordination exercises such as balancing on a wobble board or throwing and catching might help children with ADHD improve their symptoms, according to an article in the "Boston Globe." These exercises work by stimulating and strengthening the areas of the brain responsible for learning and attention span 2. The Dore program, with five locations in the United States, is one such treatment plan. Advocates of the Dore program claim that certain physical exercises strengthen the brain as well as the body. Other physical activities that rely on balance include skateboarding, mountain biking, gymnastics and kayaking.

Relaxation Exercise

People with ADHD can strengthen their attention span through relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, yoga, qi gong and meditation, according to 15. These activities also help reduce anxiety and stress, which should help a person with ADHD focus more productively on meaningful or required tasks.