How the benefits of boxing help with ADHD

Did you know that boxing training can be beneficial for people to help them manage ADHD? In fact, boxing has been shown to help improve focus, concentration, discipline and resilience. It can also help reduce stress and anxiety levels. Not only is it great for kids who have hyperactivity and lots of energy to burn off but also great for helping manage adult ADHD too. If you are looking for a way to better manage your ADHD symptoms, boxing may be the answer!

How exactly does boxing with managing ADHD?

Boxing is a high-intensity sport that requires total mind and body involvement. You have to be aware of your surroundings, your opponent, and your own body movements along with being able to regulate your emotions in real time in order to not lose control and fight effectively. All of this has a positive effect on your own personal ability to manage ADHD. Lets now talk more in depth about how the benefits of boxing and training involved help with the different aspects of ADHD.

Concentration

During activities such as hitting the bag, pad work and most importantly sparring, you have to remain focussed on the activity at hand. There is not time to let your mind wander when you are sparring against an opponent as you have to be ready to respond to their every move. This level of concentration required is practiced during activities such as hitting the bag or pad work, and the thought of being punched in the face if your don’t stay focussed provides added motivation to develop this skill.

Over time you will become more adept at being able to turn on a laser like focus when the situation requires it. The process of actively working on maintaining concentration during training leads to the brain developing more neural connections for this ability, meaning you are able to apply your concentration to other tasks not related to boxing.

Boxing training is a brilliant activity to do before activities such as studying or work that requires concentration as it releases endorphins and dopamine which make the mind more alert.

Impulsivity

Boxing can help you to manage ADHD symptoms such as impulsiveness, which can often lead to people doing things that they later regret because they didn’t think about the consequences first.

Boxing training helps you to control your impulses because you have to have a very high level of self control when sparring or fighting competitively. You can’t just throw punches aimlessly without thinking about what you’re doing, because you waste energy and make yourself more vulnerable to being counter punched. Likewise you also become able to stop yourself mid punch in situations such as sparring if the situation requires it. This self-control can carry over into other areas of your life, such as when you come into conflict with other people or even when your boss is rude to you.

As with concentration your brain develops neurologically providing you greater impulse control abilities.

Hyperactivity

For kids who have ADHD and bundles of energy, boxing training is one of the best ways for them to burn it all off, as boxing training is one of the most energy consuming work outs you can do. It makes use of all 3 of the different energy systems, to include the aerobic, anaerobic and AT-PCR system. For adults with ADHD who no longer have the hyperactive aspect, boxing training is a great way to help alleviate in the internal feeling of restlessness.

Emotional regulation

One of the biggest challenges for people to manage ADHD is being subject to extremely high intensity emotions. In particular that of anger or ‘rage’ when upset. This often causes problems in particular when it comes to social interactions and handling conflict.

Boxing training helps you learn to manage your emotions because you have to be in control of your anger when you’re boxing. If you get too angry, you won’t be able to think straight and you could make a mistake that gets you hurt. In particular developing the ability to not act on your anger is the first step to getting it under control. This ability is gradually built up during training when the person learns to tolerate and persist by the pain that is felt by certain exercises and activities. Further development in this area is provided from activities such as sparring and works in relation to learning how to control the adrenaline released from the ‘fight or flight response’.

Boxing training is also a great way to improve your mood in general. The endorphins and dopamine that are released when you work out have a positive effect on your mood and can help to combat depression. Working out is one of the best ways to relieve stress and feel good.

Developing self discipline

Due to the nature of ADHD it is incredibly important for people who have it to develop a greater level of self discipline than would otherwise be required for neurotypical people.

Boxing training is great for building self discipline, as the sport provides a very obvious real time feedback loop of how the training you have done (or lack of) translates into your performance in the ring. This provides a very high level of motivation to work hard in the training and creates an understanding of self responsibility.

As mentioned earlier you also will develop an improved tolerance to pain enabling you to face uncomfortable situations head on (a core part of discipline) rather than avoidance, and learn to just get on with things. This provides help with things such as procrastination or getting on with activities you find difficult outside of the boxing gym.

A safe alternative to other risk taking behaviors

People with ADHD are very often people who take unsafe risks as they are addicted to the adrenaline they get from such activities.

The feeling of the adrenaline rush from boxing sparring is very similar to the feeling that people with adhd get from doing things like taking risks or being in scenarios that involve a lot of noise and action. Boxing gives you something to get those adrenaline highs in a natural, safe and controlled way.

Building confidence and self esteem

Boxing training can provide a sense of accomplishment and boost self-esteem. When you achieve something in boxing, such as mastering a new skill, improving in sparring or even winning a fight, it feels great! This improved self-esteem can carry over into other areas of your life.

Achieving mini goals

A key aspect of building confidence is that it needs to be done incrementally, a bit like building fitness or strength. Often people with ADHD have very low levels of self confidence due to facing many challenges and ‘failure’ throughout their lives.

The first step back on to the path of building confidence back up is to achieve mini ‘wins’. An example of this is with activities such as skipping. Simply improving the number of ‘skips’ that are completed each session, gives real time feed of how improvements are being made. Seeing results such as these improve week on week really has an amazing ability to build your confidence. You will then start to believe in yourself and your ability to achieve in other areas of your life.

Boxing also builds an incredible level of self confidence due to developing the ability to defend yourself. You do not have to worry so much about conflict with other people when you know you can defend yourself. This is because you are less likely to enter the ‘fight or flight’ response and manage situations more calmly.(Meaning you are less likely to end up in a fight).

You will also feel less anxiety around interactions with other people in general.

Improving your overall quality of life

Boxing training not only helps with these aspects of ADHD, but also is beneficial in so many other ways for your life in general. It will get you fitter and healthier than you have ever been. You will get many other physical benefits such as improved coordination and reaction times and will develop a great physique too (which also helps boost your confidence)

Best of all you will gain a fun and engaging hobby to participate in and meet many new people. There is also the aspect of going on to box competitively yourself and going to watch your friends boxing at events themselves too.

Boxing is becoming more recognized for its benefits for ADHD

Check out one of Boxing Evolution’s great Case studies of how boxing helped Adam Azim, a young man with ADHD, become a future superstar!

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