View Full Version : Self-treatment through exercise

01-03-10, 06:26 AM
I keep reading about how exercise is self-medicating and really helps people with ADHD.

That being said, I have to wonder how/why I always get bored with it. Within just a few minutes of me doing some sort of exercise, I get insanely bored and feel like I *have to* move on to something else non-physical. Treadmills...forget it. Yoga...forget it. I actually LOVE stretching and the poses but what I can't stand is having to stay there in one pose and hold it for so long. I just want to run away screaming. I never understood why it was such a huge problem for me since I genuinely loved it so much, but now I understand it through my ADHD lense. Even just reps of floor exercises--crunches, leg lifts, etc. After so long, I'm mentally exhausted even if not physically so. And then I engage in that whole avoidance behavior in rest time between sets. I have to muster up the will to move on to something else. I'm just glad I finally understand *why* I do this, and now I think I'm ready to confront it.

I used to go to exercise classes at the gym b/c it was one way of forcing myself to stick with an exercise for at least an hour (and I worked really hard, too). But for financial reasons, I had to cancel my membership. So now I'm limited just to what I can do at home. I have numerous workout DVDs and a Wii Fit. But I have to stay focused to complete it which again is a problem...

I'm wondering if anyone else has this problem, or better yet, a solution. :cool: For those that do engage in regular exercise and find it very helpful as part of their treatment and overall well-being, do you have any tips? Do you not get bored with it? What sort of exercise do you do?

01-03-10, 07:23 AM
I like the site, and I like the stories... I cannot read the whole part.
I intend to react on only parts of the written. Like in your thread...

Exercises will work if you really like it, when there is a challenge in it, when it's fun to do, when you are committed to it... obviously you haven't found the exercises fitting for you... keep searching... handling your adhd is also finding your own way, search for the things that work.

01-03-10, 08:06 AM
The idea of exercises is that the body in motion delivers a better dosage of dopamine in the adhd-system. In motion everything in your body works harder, so does the dopamine-tap.
I do not exercise, like you... I hate it, it's boring. I don't have the discipline for exercises to do it regularly.
I do take rides with my bike... it has the same effect and I can see lots of things. I don't like fishing, too impatient, I know some adhd'ers they like to go fishing, for the quiet and being in and with the nature.

01-03-10, 11:23 AM
Exercise really help, since it helps with the execution function of the brain, manage stress, and keep the heart healthy (important when taking stimulant).

I try to do about 45 minutes of cardio every morning. (it's more like 4-5 time a week).

In order to successfully do the exercise:

1. I use an elliptical training machine - so I can train at home, and adjust the program - the body adjusts if you use the same program every time.
The cheap model I use costs about 600$.
2. I watch two episodes of TV series I've recorded previously (TV episodes, without commercials, are ~22 minutes each).
(Or in the case of Southpark, connect my laptop to the TV).
3. I use a heart rate monitor that beeps when I'm either below or over my target heart rate (it's a relatively cheap ~50$ Casio watch).

I hope this helps.. :)

01-03-10, 11:30 AM
I have a gym membership. I go about 5 days a week. I probably helps my trainer is ADhd and changes my routines every week.

I find it to be a great stress relief especially after a very stressful day at work.

01-03-10, 01:11 PM
I've tried gyms, I've tried treadmills (BoRiInGG), walking, ballet, even a group-based personal trainer......

The trick for me was finding something that was not painful, not boring and where I could get the most bang for my exercise dollar, meaning cardio AND isolated muscle workouts at the same time. The overall health benefits are too important to NOT keep trying.

For me, it's working out on my mini rebounder. It's like a mini trampoline. I turn on the TV and the radio is in the background so I have a beat to work to, and don't' get bored watching tv if it's my favorite show anyways, like Qermit, the low impact doesn't hurt my joints, and I can do 3o minutes easy with no boredom. Sometimes, once I get started, it's hard to stop.

I enjoy the way I feel when I regularly exercise, and after years, finally found something I have been able to stick to for several years now.

mADD mike
01-03-10, 01:22 PM
I feel a lot like the OP. I feel so much better when I do exercise, but I can't stick with anything. The thing that I LOVED to do the most when I was younger was playing basketball. To me, there is little more stimulating than a game where you have to be aware of where everyone on both teams are at the same time, where you have to pick your spots mentally, where there is constant motion, etc. I LOVED basketball. However, upon getting older and being self-employed, I stopped playing because I can't afford to blow out a knee or severely sprain an ankle or something. I miss the game a lot. Now I'm not in good enough shape to play anymore.

I have a Power 90 dvd that is a GREAT workout and that makes me feel awesome, but I can't muster up the motivation to do it, and that sucks. My energy levels and motivation are just so low that I can't get up and do it. I do love to hike and geocache, but it depends on the weather as to whether or not I can get out and do it. It certainly isn't something that I can do very regularly.

So, I'm still looking for something that will get me exercising, that is stimulating enough to keep me interested.

01-03-10, 02:07 PM
I used to love circuit training at the gym. Warm up on the elpse then go throught the circuit machines. They were like weight machines (similar movmements but resistance in both directions) and they could quickly be adjusted using pneumatic controls and you adjusted the resistance so you could do your repititions rather quickly for an aerobic work out. They were lined up so you could go through them sequentially and it all took about 40 minutes.

I miss the gym, but I developed MS and when I work out I get too warm and my nerves do not conduct as well so I get bad fatigue that can take days to recover from. Swimming is supposed to be good for people with MS but I find it boring.

01-03-10, 02:15 PM
i like trail running. it helps to have wooded areas nearby or lots of parks, of course, as then you can vary the route each time and just head toward whatever looks interesting.

i have only gone to a gym when it's been mandatory (for phys ed and such in school). i prefer being out in the fresh air, even if it's rainy--actually, that makes it more of an adventure:)

best wishes,

01-03-10, 02:25 PM
I get these workout phases every year in my life.

I got motivated once to bike, run, and swim, because I really wanted to do one of those half-triathalons.

I worked on a fire crew up in Alaska once and we did PT every day, and it was hard... which I liked.
After the season was over I was still motivated to keep running, but that eventually fell by the wayside.... I was doing it by myself.

While attending UAF (the uni at Fairbanks Alaska), I signed up for swim classes... that motivated me to go to class every morning and swim the program the instructor had up for us.

I also loved to cross-country ski on the trails at UAF and the local trails as well.

After moving to California, I didn't do much until I found a running partner and we decided to run a half-marathon together.
It was quite motivating to have someone come to my house at 6 a.m. expecting me to be up, ready, and go running with them.

On my own... I make it probably 3 months or so then stop.

I found that while going to school locally, I not only exercised more regularly, but felt better in classes when I took P.E. classes in the morning.

Again... I was consistent. I didn't want to fail a running class, or weight-lifting class, or swim class!

For me, I do really well if I either have a partner to workout with, or a commitment such as a class at school.

I have never been all that good with memberships at gyms.

Not long ago, I put an ad in the local Craigslist looking for a running partner.
I got one reply that actually worked out for a short while.
But I realized we weren't compatible as running partners and haven't run with her since.

01-03-10, 02:28 PM
I can't stick to anything either, I take long walks different ways helps,
I do very physical work to helps, but I am nervous about what happens when I get older because the doctors says I have degenerative discs from all the lifting. It would be really cool to have a swimming pool in the back yard someday. I had one when I was growing up. Swimming, walking and heavy labor, is how I made it successfull through high school, (with friends help) and no medication.

01-03-10, 02:55 PM
Barkley has stated substantiated exercise increases dopamine in the system. Exercise can be seen as an ADHD specific treatment.

For more backup from the About site on ADHD by JohnRatey

"Exercise almost immediately elevates dopamine and norepinephrine and keeps them up for a period of time so that it acts like a little bit of Ritalin or Adderall."

John J. Ratey, MD ( is clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of eight books including bestseller, Driven to Distraction.

Exercise works for ADHD at least for a period of time and this is how it does. Always good to know.


04-06-10, 11:23 AM
I found the Billy Blanks' Bootcamp workout videos to be pretty good for a time, also P90 to a lesser extent - trouble is, when you've watched them so many times it just adds to the bordem factor!

The main problem, I think, is that exercising without something stimulating to focus on (other than the exercise itself.) is just... beyond arduous. Every second I'm nagging myself to stop and do something else.

I've gone through a period the past year of not exercising much at all, which made me really disappointed in myself. Even knowing how good it is for me, mentally, as well as physically, I've just totally avoided it!

This week I'm going back to basics, which, for me, is the treadmill while watching a TV series. It has to be a show I'm really into, and one with good continuity. (Before it was Prison Break, Battlestar Gallactica.) It gives me something to focus on aside from what I'm doing, and something new to look forward to each session.

I'm not running cross country or pumping iron like I really wish I could, but it's something I'm able to stick to that gets me breaking a sweat. I'm sure everyone can find something like that for them. Key is to find it and be content with doing that and not get hung up on what you think or feel you could be doing. Work within your limits and focus on that fun factor.