Kids with ADHD getting help from working out

Roanoke class twice a week is part of treatment

ROANOKE – Sitting still can be hard for kids with ADHD, but a workout class is helping them learn life skills on how to live with it.

"I'm 31, I have ADHD. I work out 3 days a week," said Gabriel Villarreal, a licensed practicing counselor who helps kids with ADHD.

A workout class twice a week is part of treatment. He says research shows exercise is medicine and really important for people with ADHD.

"This seemed to be the easiest way to fulfill that for kids who have less recess in school now, have less gym class and still need that outlet, still need that medicine for their brains," said Villarreal.

"Griffin is very independent, he's adventuresome, he can also be obstinate sometimes," said James Breakell, Griffin's father who says he loves coming to the Lost Boys Strength and Conditioning classes in Roanoke.

"One of the things we always try to do is exercise. That's a great medicine for Griffin. We go out, we ride bikes. We do it so it helps him interface with the family. When we come back in and he's worked out, he's not real keyed up and so forth," said Breakell.

"Homework is a little easier on days they work out with us, and they're able to go to sleep a lot easier on the days they work out with us which is a huge part of ADHD is not being able to quiet your brain to go to sleep at night," said Villarreal.

Wearable heart rate monitors are new, allowing them to see how hard they're working.

"One of the things we know, the literature is telling us is that when our boys get to a max heart rate they produce all the chemicals that medicine, that a stimulant medication would elicit," said Villarreal.

At the end of every workout, there is some meditation.

"What did you do well and what did you struggle with?" Villarreal asks as the boys sit down.

Villarreal it's a good thing when we struggle because struggle makes us stronger.

"School's not always set up to be supportive of our ADHD-ers and they need to know that even though they're struggling through the workout, or struggling through school they will overcome and they will get better," said Villarreal.

Group classes are twice a week and kids can stay in the class as long as they have ADHD. The classes are small with only six kids.

For more information about the classes email:


About the Author

You can see Jenna weekday mornings at the anchor desk on WSLS 10 Today from 5-7 a.m. She also leads our monthly Solutionaries Series, where we highlight the creative thinkers and doers working to make the world a better place.

Recommended Videos