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The ADHD Exercise Solution

A renowned ADHD expert explains how physical activity changes your brain for the better and how exercise can act as a supplemental treatment for patients managing their symptoms with medication, therapy, and/or nutrition.

8 Comments: The ADHD Exercise Solution

  1. I have a lot of trouble waking up in the morning so a morning exercise session is out of question for me. I run in the evenings on alternate days. The only time I woke up early in the morning (7AM Saturday) was when I had a running buddy in graduate school. How do I get myself to wake up early to exercise? Any tips and references to past articles would be really helpful

  2. Back in the day when I was growing up, ADHD wasn’t well known and certainly wasn’t talked about. Though I know my parents knew I was just a little “different” than my brothers, a bit more “energetic and had a much harder time in school. At the age of 7 I joined a summer swim team at our neighborhood pool. My parents noticed a tremendous change in my behavior and my bedtime routine that summer. It became apparent that swimming definitely helped me stay more attentive, calmed my hyperactivity to a certain extend and helped me settle down at night. As the years went by I swam year round and loved every minute of it. My parents didn’t really understand ADHD then and to this day can’t begin to comprehend how hard it was for me growing up and struggling with ADHD. Of course I still had to study twice as much as everyone else and still didn’t make close to the same grades. But I ended up doing well enough in High School and went on to get my nursing degree at a decent college. Both my parents were PHDs and both my brothers were brilliant which didn’t help my self- confidence. I’m now 51, married with 3 wonderful kids, medicated, an avid crossfit athlete, and an RN. I was an ED nurse for many years and now work at a Law Firm in the Medical Malpractice defense area. Even though I’m still a tad hyper, still don’t catch on as quickly as others and still struggle with self confidence I am at peace and proud being ADHD!

  3. Being active is extremely important to me, while my husband is able to sit for hours at his computer (part of his job). Even when I was a kid, I was constantly moving: walking, running, climbing trees, riding horses. In my twenties I tried jogging, but never enjoyed it much because the weather was so unpredictable in the Midwest.

    Now I’m in my 60s, and I still enjoy walking and riding horses. I’ve tried a variety of exercises, and there are some great ones on YouTube. However, I keep going back to walking because it’s so easy and effective. And, I’ll admit that being fit, in general, is important to me. I usually find additional routines to help with strength, and I’m constantly switching those around.

    My husband and I just got back from a vacation that required a lot of car time, and I got so tired of sitting!!! It’s really great to be home again, walking the dog, riding the horses, just moving!

  4. It would be nice to see circadian rhythm entrainment incorporated in your exercise prescriptions. Early morning intense exercise may not be the best – some gentle, waking up exercise probably better, with more vigorous exercise later in the morning before lunch, and possibly split into 2 segments morning and afternoon. Eating after exercise (working for your food) rather than before is more supportive of circadian rhythms also. There’s a good chance your patient’s diet changed when his exercise routine changed, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a ketogenic diet didn’t have helpful effects. Subcortical and inner cortical layers of the brain easily benefit from ketones, including the brain stem.

  5. I have known for years the beneficial effects of excercise but have been unable to resurrect a pattern of morning exercise three days a week that served me well 30 years ago. Now I am 73, and spent a few months post open heart surgery re establishing that habit with great results ……until I over did it on an arc machine. Result excruciatingly painful back and sciatic pain for Months. Percs and Vicodone weaned off after 6 months and now would like to start up again Which is akin to saying I plan on living a few more years. However that momentary drive that had me doing that and many other things is still on vacation.
    I use Venlafaxine and it has done a remarkable job of cooling the RSD response and depression but do not take the prescribed Concerta as it revs my surliness too much even though it is a minimum dose. As I am a retired consultant with 3 exxes i am very much in need of the health benefits exercise will bring and would appreciate any suggestions.

    1. Treat yourself to an E-bike. Cycling is low impact and if you’ve overdone it you can let the electric motor drive you home. You can control how much you pedal vs how much work the motor does for you on hills etc. Speaking of hills, even walking hills is a great way to get the heart and lungs working. I am in my thirties taking Concerta and have found it pairs very nicely with exercise. Concerta without the exercise drives me stir crazy.

    2. Can you walk? I know it’s not the same as lifting or using machines, but it’s still good exercise. I’m 66 and I either walk or use the treadmill 5-6 times a week for 30 minutes. Getting outside is the best, but when I can’t do that, watching TV while I’m on the treadmill is a great alternative. I really don’t feel good unless I’m able to stay active. When I fractured my knee, I had my husband take me to the mall, and I got pretty good at moving along on my crutches!

      Of course, I’ve wanted to keep my upper body strength, so I’ve been lowering myself from a chin up bar, slowly. I was just getting to where I could lift myself 3 times in a row, when I started having intense pain in one of my thumbs!! How disappointing. But, I think it’s because of the way the bar forces my wrists to stay straight, so I just ordered some rings that will allow them to turn.

      Figure out what you can do, even if it’s only 15 minutes. Gradually work up on time and intensity to whatever suits you. I know it’s easier said than done, but that’s true about exercise in general. Good luck to you; you need to get moving!

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