Balance and the Cerebellum

There is really cool evolving research that links the functions of the cerebellum to ADHD symptoms. We used to think that the cerebellum only controlled balance and coordination in the body. Now we are learning that it also controls coordination of many other brain functions, including emotions, thoughts, learning, sensory, motor, and movement. 

Research studies are demonstrating that strengthening the cerebellum can improve function in these areas! One great way to strengthen the cerebellum is balance exercises.

I have a very popular reel on my instagram account, @behaviourcoach that highlights this connection. One of the most popular questions and comments on this post is requests for research and citations to support this connection.

Instagram reels are a wonderful tool for sharing small soundbites and ideas, but not the easiest for collecting and sharing resources. So that is the purpose of this post. I am simply linking books, articles, and podcasts alongside peer reviewed studies that look at this connection for those that have been inquiring. Enjoy diving deep into the world of balance, the cerebellum, and ADHD.

neilson mahoney adhd coaching

It is important to note that while these articles suggest a potential connection and provide very promising data to support the connection between strengthening the cerebellum via balance work and improved ADHD symptoms, research is still ongoing. Anecdotal evidence is frequent and easy to find, but what research is conclusive on is that exercise improves ADHD symptoms. Sometimes it is hard to parse whether improvement is coming from balance work or the exercise component that many balance work programs include. The most beautiful part of balance work is that it is easy to access and has many benefits beyond the potential to improve ADHD symptoms via cerebellum support. If you are curious, enjoy this deep dive.

Links to Resources

Easy to Consume Reads

If you want to dig deeper into this topic, but not necessarily read lengthy peer reviewed research, check out these resources for an enjoyable overview.

🡺 ADHD 2.0 by Dr. Hallowell and Dr. Ratey

🡺 Distraction Podcast – Strengthening the Cerebellum to Improve ADHD Symptoms

🡺 The Exercise Prescription by Michael Lara, MD

🡺 How do Balance Problems Relate to ADHD

🡺 Yoga for ADHD

neilson mahoney adhd coaching
neilson mahoney adhd coaching

Easy to Consume Reads

If you want to dig deeper into this topic, but not necessarily read lengthy peer reviewed research, check out these resources for an enjoyable overview.

🡺 ADHD 2.0 by Dr. Hallowell and Dr. Ratey

🡺 Distraction Podcast – Strengthening the Cerebellum to Improve ADHD Symptoms

🡺 The Exercise Prescription by Michael Lara, MD

🡺 How do Balance Problems Relate to ADHD

🡺 Yoga for ADHD

neilson mahoney adhd coaching

Next Steps

Ok, so now that you have seen the research and the why, what next?

If you are a parent supporting a child I have a few recommendations. If your child can safely perform a variety of foundational movement skills and can access group fitness and sports programming in a safe way, there are a number of sports and activities that promote balance. My top recommendations are martial arts, yoga, horseback riding, skateboarding, and dance.

If your child struggles with balance in conjunction with ADHD, this is where I recommend working with an Occupational Therapist or Physiotherapist with experience working with individuals with ADHD. They can help to provide accessible and safe activities that your child can practice. Often programs that are short in duration but frequently practiced, 10 minutes a day, can make a big difference when performed daily as a part of a morning or evening routine.

My adult recommendations are similar, group fitness classes such as yoga, acro yoga, barre, or even cross fit and other more intense fitness classes. If getting out of the house is tricky I love Yoga with Adriene on youtube for free and appropriate for all levels classes.

Again if balance and coordination is a challenge, then I recommend working with a professional that can help you to find a safe and accessible option. Choices that use a wall or chair as a support will be ideal.

In addition to the above recommendations, using balance tools like wobble chairs, wobble boards, wiggle cushions, yoga balls, and more as easy to access movement tools in your home can be a fun way to move and balance daily for all ages. 

🡺 Wobble Board

🡺 Wobble Chair

🡺 Wiggle Cushion