The benefits of exercise for ADHD and anxiety

So I started to write last week about exercise and ended up writing more about patience. Let’s get back to the exercise! 

Here’s what I noticed when I had to stop doing any cardio:
  • I wasn’t falling asleep as well or staying asleep as well.
  • I was more on edge and generally cranky.
  • I was far less patient with the kids.
  • I struggled to muster the motivation and attention to do more administrative work.

But I realized even more when I was able to work out again. There was a definite point in my slow work back up to my previous exercise when I crossed the 30 minute threshold of sprinting on the spin bike when things changed. It was like the clouds parted and sun began shining. All of the above things got almost instantly better. Though some of those things are somewhat nebulous, my sleep improved in a concrete manner and so did my anxiety. I don’t think I’ve take an ativan during the day more than once or twice in the last three weeks.

One other really interesting thing that happened related to my learning the drums. I’m a late bloomer. I started taking lessons last year at 39. I am very much a novice. But I enjoy it and focus on getting a little better every week… which I usually think I do. But there was a time about 6 weeks ago when I actually contemplated quitting. I wasn’t making any progress and felt like I was actually regressing. I was struggling very simple counting exercises and basic rudiments. I realized that my attention was the main culprit. But I didn’t realize that it had to do with exercise. 

My lesson 3 weeks ago, right before I hit my “feel good point” in my rehab was probably the worst that I had ever had. I couldn’t get anything right and was really anxious and self conscious in front of my teacher. (And he’s a really nice guy who doesn’t put any pressure on me.) Then I hit that point in my rehab and all of a sudden I could pay attention better, enjoy my practice time, and had a great lesson last week that didn’t stress me out at all. I think the drum situation is particularly important to think about. Many people only think about controlling their attention in regards to work or school. But attention is key to every aspect of life. 

I’ve had enough experience with how important exercise is for me that I’m not going to forget that I need it. But it was really powerful to have such a black and white, before and after situation to reinforce what I already know. Exercise is not the whole solution. My medication is a much larger part of the solution. But the exercise is also an important piece of the puzzle.

Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please excuse and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. In my humble opinion, an imperfect post posted is infinitely better than a perfect post that goes unfinished.

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