I bumped into a fantastic article at Bicycling Magazine’s website entitled, “Riding Is My Ritalin: ADHD and Cycling“. For me, it’s one of those articles that makes everything make sense. The person at the center of the article, Adam Leibovitz, seems to have a much stronger case of ADD (or ADHD) than I do, but my results mirror his in many ways though finding cycling took me a lot longer that it did Adam.
Some of the more interesting points in the article center around replacing (or lowering the dosage of) Ritalin with cycling, running, swimming or all three. The thought is that the cause of ADHD has to do with a lack of neural transmitters in the brain. I’ll give you two guesses but you’ll only need one: What, other than Ritalin or Adderall, boosts those transmitters?
So many things click into place for me after reading this article. For instance, while I show up early to the office almost every morning, I get more done in the three or four hours after lunch than the six or seven hours before – all winter long I’ve been riding on the trainer for 30 minutes to an hour before lunch… I am more focused and can perform multiple tasks in rapid succession after a short workout and I’m vastly more focused after the longer workouts.
The linked article is important in many ways. Not only does it detail perfectly how strenuous aerobic exercise can significantly diminish the need for narcotic solutions (Ritalin is a small dose of Meth’s cousin to put it simply), the article uses Adam’s case as an example of how exercise can replace, in many cases, the need for drugs altogether. This is a huge issue for boys and men as we are diagnosed with the problem 3-1 over girls. I have my own hypothesis as to why this is the case – boys are more rambunctious as kids, that’s how we’re wired. Also, the vast majority of grade school teachers are women who couldn’t possibly understand why we boys act the way we do – they can know, but there is a cavernous difference between knowing and understanding. This truth notwithstanding, I won’t be holding my breath for a new Title to the public school system which would level the playing field and help boys to excel. After all, we already rule everything and are, as a matter of fact, the root of all evil anyway.
All joking aside, the article also delves into the reasons behind the fact that little research is being done into just how much exercise can impact kids diagnosed with ADHD. First of all, and this is made clear if you pay attention, this is not some corporate conspiracy. Drug companies fund the bulk of the research in this field, why would they pay to prove their medications aren’t needed? Only a fool with a company that will soon be facing bankruptcy would do that. The bicycling industry could chip in some cash for the research, but the demographic benefit would be pretty small. As far as I’m concerned, it really isn’t all that necessary either – what is necessary is that the message that drugging little boys and girls into compliance doesn’t have to be the answer be shouted from the rooftops and become general knowledge.
In fact two schools, according to the article, have been experimenting for some time, with great success, starting the kid’s day with an early morning workout – the kid’s test scores, not surprisingly, improved significantly – and they’re turning out the fittest kids in the country at the same time. Of course, they receive little publicity. What a shame.
So please, for the sake of our kids and your own sanity, read that article and take it to heart. Then put your butt on a bike and reap the whirlwind of benefits – and pass on your success story so others can benefit as well.