Life from an outsider's perspective…

Overstimulation, ADHD & physical exercise.

The link between physical & mental health. Overstimulation, hyperactivity & physical exercise.Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) simply an extreme degree of hyperactivity, brought about by many complex contributing factors? We’re stimulated (visually) by television and seemingly limitless internet possibilities. Outwardly, we appear to have adapted in various ways to this fast pace of life. But what happens to our brain when we stop all this fast-paced internet work and shutdown our computers and gaming consoles? Our brain continues to run wild at this high pace. Our minds continue to race overtime; not accustomed to stagnating, we dwell & obsess over the tiniest of problems merely for “something to do”. Is this something we have control over?

Overstimulation, ADHD, and a lack of concentration.Could a lack of excerise combined with overchoice & overstimulation actually compound certain mental disorders in the early phase of development? In an ever-increasingly stressful world, we’ve simultaneously reduced the amount of excercise we receive! We drive everywhere, use mobile devices, remote controls, pre-packaged “lazy foods”, etc. Although most of us still continue to defer exercise. This is a recipe for disaster. Could this be a simple link to many of today’s current mental disorders?

Certainly, advanced brain research will help diagnose mental disorders such as ADHD, for example. But while scientists are busy studying brain chemicals and neurotransmitter activity, do they pay much attention to the initial reasons behind why those chemicals are different? I for one think its better to understand the true reasons or causes behind something, not merely their symptoms, consequences or effects. What’s the difference? Well, a few simple observations and tests might show that there is an insufficient level of dopamine in the brain in ADHD patients, for example. Some would argue that that essentially is the disease. At the very least it reveals the reason for the occurence of some of the disease’s symptoms. However, since the disease is usually characterised by its symptoms, what’s actually stopping us from labelling this an “in vivo symptom”?

Knowing the concentration of dopamine in the brain of a patient with ADHD doesn’t really help us initially, other than to ask the follow-up questions, “how can we now change this value?”. Researching a potential cure in this manner will never prevent this disease, only reduce its symptoms. What we really want to know is “Why has this value changed of its own accord?”. One possible reason is that the child doesn’t perform sufficient exercise, and this in turn affects their brain chemisty. I.e. we should ask the question “why is this value different?” in the first place. In my humble opinion, the latter type of research is far more valuable than the former.

In my opinion, we are biological beings and physical exercise is highly important if not crucial to our overall health. It’s like oxygen -we can certainly get by with less, but we’re better off with the correct amount. If I attempt to breathe in an oxygen-depleted environment and begin to exhibit symptoms of asphyxiation, I’d want to receive a healthy dose of oxygen before I die. I certainly wouldn’t wait around for biology research to cure my condition. I’m sure they could come up with all sorts of cellular “reasons” as to why I’m failing to respire adequately while all the the cells in my body are turning blue. But like I said before, if I can’t breathe properly, the real reason is that I need to inhale more oxygen molecules. At this stage, it’s best to give me what I need -air- not try to substitute it with something else in the form of a pill.

Biologists can argue all they want about it. Take for example an earlier phase of depression I experienced. My depression wasn’t initally caused by an imbalance in my brain chemicals, that was the end result which severely affected my mood. The real cause was a hundred other factors out there in the real world to do with relationships, life, money, worries, disappointment, stagnation, pity, etc, which I didn’t realise until after being diagnosed. It was cured, in part chemically, by prozac, but also by a lot of hope, positive thinking and inspiration.

Doctors haven’t done many definitive studies about exercise and ADHD, says David Goodman, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. But Goodman says it makes sense that working out would help people cope with the condition. Studies show that exercise increases levels of two key brain chemicals €” dopamine and norepinephrine €” that help people focus.

If kids could exercise strenuously three to five times a day, they might not need medications at all, says John Ratey, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Ratey is so intrigued by the question that he’s writing a book about how exercise can reduce symptoms of ADHD or at least help patients cope.

Studies show that children today are far more sedentary than they were a generation or two ago, a trend that has contributed to increasing childhood obesity rates. “You could speculate that one reason for the increasing rates of ADHD is that kids are exercising less,” says James Perrin, a professor of pediatrics at Boston’s MassGeneral Hospital for Children.

Researchers have looked at other habits to explain the rise in ADHD rates. But experts note that there isn’t much research to clearly link lifestyles with attention problems.

More than a few parents and teachers suspect that sugary snacks €” with their artificial colors, flavors and preservatives €” contribute to the problem. Others suggest that vitamins might reduce hyperactivity. But most controlled trials show these substances have no effect on ADHD, according to a July review in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Many parents also wonder whether television, computers and video games make it harder for children to concentrate. A study in 2004 found that infants and toddlers who watch a lot of television are more likely to have trouble concentrating in their early school years. Every extra hour of TV raised the odds of having attention problems by 10%, according to the study, which was published in Pediatrics. Source

One Response to “Overstimulation, ADHD & physical exercise.”

  1. this is something that i didn’t think of but it makes alot of sense given that i have done so much better in school since i started swimming and running. i have much more focus in my daily activies. i have found that i have a hard time not quitting smoking and i don’t really know if it is because of my adult Adhd or just an addictive personality? thankyou for giving this the time of day with your permission i would like to include what has been said here to my senoir paper.

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