How Exercise Can Help with ADHD (and How to Actually Do It)

Hello brains! Today I’m going to talk
about exercise. W-wait! Where are you going?! Okay, okay. I get it. We all know that
exercise is supposed to be good for us. Most of us are pretty sick of hearing
about it actually. So why aren’t we all doing 30 to 60 minutes of it three to
five times a week. Plenty of reasons; too tired, too boring, abs are for people who
haven’t realized there are more important things in life. Many of us do
try but it’s pretty hard for most people to stick to a regular exercise routine,
and the executive function challenges that come with ADHD can make it
especially difficult. Also, ADHD schedules can be pretty hectic, and when we get
busy, self-care like exercise is often the first thing to go. I’m no exception.
When this channel started to take off, I decided having more time to work on it,
was more important than going to play tennis with a friend. Who cares that my
tummy’s a little doughy. I’ve got videos to make you guys can’t see it anyway. (Taps stomach)
Freedom! What I forgot to factor in is that exercise isn’t necessarily for the
body. It’s also amazing for the brain ADHD brains in particular. But is it
worth all the time and effort, to work out just for the brain benefits? How
exactly does exercise affect our brain? Ready… wait for it. Cool science stuff. (Music). So when you exercise what actually
happens in your brain? I spent a month and a half looking into it. With the help of
doctoral candidates, Patrick A. LaCount, who happens to be researching the impact
of exercise on ADHD. Scientifically speaking when you exercise there’s
basically a huge, neurotransmitter party in your brain. During exercise your body
releases happy chemical, a.k.a endorphins! You may have heard of them. At the same
time exercise also boosts dopamine and norepinephrine. The same
neurotransmitters that stimulant medication increases, in order to help us
focus. “Whaaa.” This all happens pretty quickly, which is why you tend to feel happier,
and more productive for an hour or two after you workout.
It’s also why you might sleep better that night and not feel as stressed. But
there’s a long-term brain benefit too, and it’s something you’ve probably never
heard of. Exercise increases production of something called BDNF. BDNF is a
protein, that basically acts like fertilizer for the brain. How? It promotes
neurogenesis, a.k.a, the creation of new brain cells. Yes fellow nerds! When you
exercise you are literally growing your brain! All right I’m sold! What do I have
to do? *All* exercise benefits ADHD brains. So do what’s fun for you. Do whatever kind of exercise you like to do. If you don’t
like doing any kind of exercise, don’t exercise. Just go do stuff you like to do
that happens to involve moving your body. Your whole body. Technically that counts.
How do you know what you like to do, that involves moving if you don’t normally do
things that involve moving? Start with your interests. I love dogs. I love learning.
I always wished I knew how to dance. Hey! Like video games? Try ‘Dance Dance
revolution. Harry Potter? Quidditch! Yes, this is a real thing! They’re ‘quiditching’!
What?! There are so many interesting things to do. There’s no reason to do stuff you
don’t like. Of course even once we find something we like to do, it can still be
hard getting out the door. So here are some strategies that might help:
accountability. If I’m the only one who will know if I didn’t do yoga that day
I’m not doing yoga. Showing up for tennis got a lot easier, once I had a regular
tennis partner. If I didn’t show up, he didn’t get to play. Preparation. Who moved my tennis racket! Why don’t I have any clean socks! Where did I put my car? Don’t wait
till the last minute to get started. While you’re feeling motivated, go ahead
and sign up for the class ahead of time, pack gym bag, lay out your clothes the
night before. Sleep in them if you have to! Make things as easy on yourself as
possible. If it’s easier to go than to cancel you’re more likely to go. Novelty.
It’s easy for us to get bored even if it’s something we like, and that makes
exercising so much harder. So buy yourself a new outfit. Look up a new
trail to hike. Have at least a couple of activities you can choose from, so you
can do what you feel like doing that day. Try the latest fitness craze. I did that.
It’s hard! What it looks like is, “Ah, I’m upside down.” What it’s really like is, “AH!
I’m upside down! It’s not as relaxing as it looks. Start slow. After learning all this stuff, I was so excited about how much exercise
benefits my brain, I spent 30 minutes racing around the house and promptly
hurt my back. Guess how much moving I did after that? Trick question! I had to move
my whole house. That was not fun. Do not recommend. Exercise at a regular time.
I try to move in the morning if I possibly can, because after that… life.
But choose whatever time of the day works for you. Maybe jogging after work helps you
clear your mind. Or swimming at night helps you relax before bed. Reward
yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything huge but it’s best if you work it right
into your routine. Maybe you get to watch netflix on your phone when you’re
running at the gym. I used to get my favorite smoothie after class. Yay!
Instant feedback! And finally but arguably most importantly. Track your
activity. Not how many reps you did or how much you weigh – that’s not what
we’re here for. Just track: what you did, for how long, how enjoyable it was, and
how it affected whatever it is you care about. In my case I’m tracking sleep
focus and stress – especially stress! This will help you find what type and length
of movement works best for your brain. Not someone else’s! By the way if you
meant to do something and didn’t do it, that’s worth tracking too. Not so you can beat
yourself up over it, but so that you can start to see what gets in your way and
move it. Or so that you can find something else that you like enough that
you’ll actually want to go. That’s it for this week. Check with a doctor before
starting any exercise program. I am NOT a doctor. Especially if… Especially that
last one. Yeah! Just because we feel invincible
doesn’t mean we are. If you liked this episode, subscribe and if you love this
episode and want to help me make more, consider donating to my patreon page.
Like these brains did! Thank you to all of my patreon brains It’s because of you
that Edward and I are able to put so much time into this channel. Each episode
takes us anywhere from 40 to 80 hours to make. On top of testing out the
strategies. And you’re the ones making that possible. Let me know what gets you
moving. Comment below hit me up on Facebook or Twitter, and I
will see you next week. Bye brains! Question time!
Hey what’s happened to question time? I’ll be honest I keep forgetting to do
it, but no more. Ask me questions in the comments below and I will pick one to
answer at the end of next week’s video. And if you remember Patrick from earlier
in the episode, he’s joined our team as a research consultant. Patrick
volunteered because he’s passionate about spreading up-to-date scientific
understanding about ADHD. So science and brain based questions are great too!


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