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I don’t need to cite a bunch of studies for you to know that exercise is important to your health. Regular exercise lowers your risk of many types of chronic disease as well as some forms of cancer. I have a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
But did you know that exercise actually turns on our attention?! According to John Ratey, “exercise turns on the executive functions – sequencing, working memory, prioritizing, inhibiting and sustaining attention.” You know, all the things we do not excel at. Source.
Believe it or not, I do not exercise just because I am a vain beotch. I am vain, but that is not my whole reason.
My son has ADHD, and I have ADHD. We both struggle with attention, concentration and emotional regulation. We need to exercise whether we like it or not.
Exercise is the only type of medication for ADHD that does not require a prescription, so we should all be taking advantage of it.
So lets get to moving our bodies, shall we?
Get your blood flowing
When you get your heart pumping obviously your blood is flowing more rapidly through your veins and organs. I believe that when I have a well- oxygenated brain I function better. To really oxygenate your brain try weight lifting.
I work out with a trainer every week. The reason I pay for the one-on-one attention is that it gives me accountability. She forces me to do and try things I would never do on my own, and as an added bonus my creativity gets a boost.
My best posting ideas come to me during and after a workout.
You know that feeling you get after you accomplish something? Where you are thinking more clearly and feel like you can take on the world?
THAT is why you should do something active every day.
Lower stress levels/cortisone levels
I don’t know about you, but I often have some nervous energy. I know my nerves are bad if I am biting my nails or chewing on my lips. Nail biting is so gross!
When we are stressed we secrete cortisone. From what I have read, cortisone in high amounts is not good for your heart. If I move my body, and use all of my large muscle groups, I find I feel a lot less stressed and I am more able to deal with situations “in the moment.”
I am also less inclined to engage in unhealthy nervous habits like overeating, undereating, or indulging in too much alcohol.
Ask yourself – how do I respond to stress? Does my daily stress level cause me to engage in unhealthy behaviors?
Activity Improves everyone’s focus
Don’t stop reading yet! When I exercise it allows me to focus better later.
For example, if I go and work out, then go straight home and start writing I can produce waaaay better content. It is like my brain can more easily develop ideas and then articulate them.
If I have been sitting on my rear all day, getting my thoughts down on paper is like learning a foreign language; the words come out in a jumble and they don’t string together very well.
A recent study showed that just half an hour of vigorous play improved the focus and mood of children from kindergarten through second grade. So movement does not just help adults focus, it helps our children too! Source
How often do you and your children actually move your bodies? If you aren’t sure you could always get a Fitbit or some other fitness tracker to find out. I use my Fitbit to make sure I get up and move once every hour at work.
Taking a short walk is something enough to get your brain fired up and push through your goals for the day.
The more you move the better you will be able to focus, whether you are an adult or a child.
set yourself up for success
When we work out we set the tone for the day. What I mean by this is we tend to make better choices about diet and lifestyle when we are taking care of our health.
If you give your body what it needs in terms of movement, you are more likely to continue your day in a healthy, calm and rational state of mind. Also, if you work out at the end of the day you will fall asleep more easily and feel more rested in the morning without the need to self-medicate with substances.
I love a glass of good red wine. But I don’t need wine to help me relax because I exercise. See what I did there?
Remember that time I wrote about Our Hormones and ADHD? Well it turns out that exercise and movement is one of the best things we can do to combat aging and the accompanying symptoms of that process.
Many women don’t even find out they have ADHD until they find themselves sitting in a therapist’s office crying about weight gain, emotional outbursts and memory loss.
As I mentioned in that article estrogen and progesterone play a major role in ADHD, as do some other hormones that float around in our bodies and brains.
Moving our bodies through physical exercise is one of the best ways to gain a sense of control over our ADHD symptoms and our hormones.
If you want to feel like an active participant in managing your ADHD and your hormones, exercise is where it’s at!
Listen, I don’t want anyone to feel bad if they are not into exercising. But I do think the benefits of exercise go beyond looking good in a swimsuit. I am always looking for ways to compensate for my ADHD symptoms so I get excited when I can share something that works.
Exercise as a tool in your arsenal. Take advantage of it. Combine physical movement with behavioral therapy and medication.
Incorporate activity that feels good to you and feeds your soul.
For more info on Dr. Ratey’s book check out Amazon: