Focus

Feed Your ADHD Brain – With Vigorous Exercise

Thanks again to my friend Alan Brown of ADD Crusher fame for another engaging guest post. If you haven’t yet checked out the resources on his website, take some time after reading this post to pop over there … his ADD resources are fantastic, especially if you want natural, entertaining and unique ways to get on top of your own challenges!

As we’re heading back to school or regularly scheduled work, let’s take another moment to ponder our ADHD brain and its particular back-to-school/work needs. (I say “another” moment, because in a recent blog at ADDCrusher.com, I laid out the first of what will be three treatises on Feeding Your ADHD Brain — that first installment having been about diet.)

This second round will cover an equally important input to our cranial cohesiveness – exercise. What the heck does exercise have to do with your brain health? Let alone your ADD symptoms? Tons. Hear this…

Harvard doc John Ratey says, “Exercise stimulates a brain chemical that acts like Miracle-Grow for the brain.” Indeed, when your blood is pumping real good and sweat is drenching your Justin Beiber t-shirt, your brain is cranking out ADD-crushing chemicals.

We hear a lot about the importance of getting in shape generally. But for ADDers, it’s not just physical fitness that’s at stake: there is conclusive proof – and Ratey is just one of many experts churning out this proof – that vigorous exercise helps with mental acuity, stamina and focus – all things we ADDers are often short on.

 

Want More Science-Based Inspiration on Perspiration? 

Research increasingly tells us that exercise isn’t only an effective flab-buster and focus-booster — it’s a remedy for just about any health issue you might face: insomnia, anxiety, back pain — even hot flashes (I’m just sayin’) and plenty more. “When it comes to preventing health problems, exercise is one of the best medicines we have,” says Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center.

 

That’s the Why. Here’s Some How

Now, assuming you’re sold on the benefits of exercise as an alternative ADHD remedy and then some (and you should be!), here are some tips for getting more of it and the right kind…

 

  • Any exercise is great, but you only benefit from VIGOROUS exercise: e.g., at least 20 minutes of cardio.
  • If you’re already getting some exercise during the day or in the evening, consider moving your workout to the morning. Gregory Flores of the American Council on Exercise says, “morning exercisers tend not to have midmorning slumps and are sharper mentally than if they hadn’t exercised.” This is in part because morning workouts trigger more endorphins and suppress more stress hormones.
  • For the most robust brain health, it’s probably advisable to incorporate both aerobic and resistance training, two recent studies in people and animals suggest.

 

And now that you have reasons and best ways to exercise, there are probably a convenient bundle of reasons (um, excuses?) why you can’t start with a new or improved exercise regimen. No time? Can’t afford gym membership? Gym’s too far away? Just plain hate it? You can crush each and every one of these the moment you step back get fed up with these excuses.

 

Fire Up Your Emotions to Get Into Motion

Studies tell us that having an emotional incentive works best as motivational fuel to get you off your butt – especially an ADHD-addled butt. So get emotional about these emotionally-charged benefits: guard against many types of cancer…boost metabolism…improve sleep…give you more energy…improve your mood…look more attractive…slow the effects of aging…be around longer for your kids and grandkids. As much as we dislike exercise, how can we look at this list of benefits and argue that the pain isn’t worth that gain?

 

 

In the third installment of this Feed Your ADHD Brain trilogy, I’ll talk about the importance of the final brain feeder: Sleeeeeep! Check it out here at at Tara MicGillicuddy’s Living With ADD blog.

 

Stay tuned. And stay healthy…

alan brown add crusher An executive and entrepreneur, Alan was  diagnosed as an adult, but found it difficult to  learn coping strategies from books – so he  developed his own mess-to-success strategies.  The resulting 10 “Ways” comprise the ADD  Crusher™ approach — interactive, engaging  videos and tools for ADHD adults seeking greater  life fulfillment. If this blog post was of even  modest interest to you…then you’ll go freakin’ crazy for Alan’s ADD Crusher™ Videos & Tools. Money back, guaranteed.

Mindset

The Scariest Part of Undiagnosed Adult ADHD

 

Wanna hear a scary story?

Since today is Hallowe’en, I thought I would take this opportunity to break from tradition and post a day early. Everyone loves a scary story now and then. And there is no better day than Hallowe’en to share one. Be warned though, sometimes reality is scarier than fiction.

No one knows for sure why we celebrate Hallowe’en in the way that we do. Some theories suggest that its origins are rooted in times when the Roman Empire ruled the world. Their tradition of conjointly honouring saints who had no other day bestowed to them became amalgamated with ancient Celtic beliefs that the dead revisit the earth one day a year.

Hallowe’en, the evening before All Saints Day, was seen as the time when the portal between earthly and ethereal realms would be opened. In attempt to appease the spirits, the people would leave food at the edge of their townships and adorn themselves in gruesome costumes, hoping to ward off harm from evil spirits. And somewhere along the line, the tradition of dressing up and trick-or-treating was born. (Aside – I’m no historian so I make no claims to this being anything more than a theory!)

When times are hard and we don’t understand why, people tell themselves stories to explain the difficulties and give them context. The theories, inaccurate though they may be, give us a sense that we are not completely lost and navigating life without a compass. Likewise, it is human tendency to seek safety in benign rituals when there is no power to be found in more logical defenses. The rituals may not always make sense or have even a modicum of plausibility, but they are nonetheless comforting because they offer us a sense of control over situations that are beyond comprehension.

Put it this way: if your community was poor, oppressed, illness-laden and there was nothing you could do about it, wouldn’t the idea that you could ward off further harm through engaging in ritualistic behaviours bring you some sense of assurance? You may not be able to change what’s already been done, but you could surely stop it from getting any worse!

Would scary costumes really defend a person from an evil spirit with malicious intentions? Probably not. I also have a vague sense that ghosts probably don’t eat, so I can’t see what good leaving out a picnic for them would do either. But that’s not the point. Doing those things gave the people a sense of control and an ability to take some sort of action. People need to feel that they have some power over their situation or they will lose all hope. Without hope, you have nothing.

And so it is the way for someone living an ADHD life never knowing that ADHD is what they are dealing with. They devise all sorts of theories and explanations to understand why they are the way that they are, and create elaborate rituals and systems to compensate for what they cannot explain. These are not the undead roaming our earth one day a year, but the undiagnosed wandering it every day of the year. They wander through life lost, knowing not they are undiagnosed, and missing their place in the tribe they never they belonged to.

Scary isn’t it?

I must point you towards my virtual face right now, so that can you see my cheek protruding with a tongue lodged firmly in it. I am not really likening my undiagnosed comrades to zombies and monsters. I was undiagnosed myself for most of my life. In my (always) melodramatic way I am highlighting a simile that I think is worth mentioning. The dead are fantasized to wander the earth because they don’t know they are dead. We ADDers also have a great tendency to wander aimlessly when we don’t know that we have ADD.

It’s not the diagnosis that’s important, it’s the understanding it brings us. Whether or not you chose to seek diagnosis or even treatment is not nearly as important as the choice to, once and for all, seek a new understanding of yourself and your brain chemistry. Most important, it’s the realization that we are not less-than-human because of our differences, but that we are an important part of the human tribe, that sets us free from the curse of being supposed interlopers. And then we can give up useless rituals in favour of ones that actually serve us.

We aren’t lost. With the right map we can find our way just fine. Take that with you as you wander the earth this Hallowe’en day!