An Experiment with Exercise

I know that cardiovascular exercise improves the cognitive function of the brain, but does it help the ADHD brain, which has trouble with executive function—the management of various processes in the brain like reasoning, problem solving, working memory and planning—and how to regulate its neurotransmitters to produce proper levels of feel-good hormones and chemicals? Obviously, any action that floods the brain with more dopamine, a hormone-neurotransmitter my own brain can’t seem to keep enough of in order to stop the potential to bite someone’s head off for daring to interrupt me at work or in the middle of a really good book, is a positive step. Is it enough, though, that I can incorporate the potential to wean myself off of medications or at least my iron-grip reliance on how much it’s recently improved my life at work and at home?
One thing I struggle with is how to keep the motivations going to do the things that make me feel better and keep me on the path to discovery. I make plans (and usually abandon them halfway through); I write lists (and lose them in my workbag); I create folders full of reminders of my talent when I need to. All of this, to keep my self-esteem at a level high enough to force that essential forward progress, and not create another setback. Except now I have to take myself to task for not keeping the one New Year’s resolution that ninety-nine percent of us end up dropping in frustration?
To remember how much better I operate at a 9-5 corporate job (someday that will be in my rearview mirror, I promise), after a run at the gym during lunchtime, works if I schedule it as though it’s time to take my medicine. It is much more uncomplicated to frame it in that way because it becomes necessary to exist and be okay with where I am in my work life. I can’t forget to take my medicine no matter how a meeting unexpectedly comes up or if I’m running behind on a project or get caught up on a phone call.
The only thing that stops me from this lunchtime workout turning ritual is how long it takes me to remember how important it is. My brain needs a zap every 30 minutes or so and if I have trouble wading out of the morning coffee or the dip into last night’s television recaps, the delay to my workday is inevitable. I set a timer in the schedule tool on my phone to keep that zap on the visual level; anything that will shake me out of my reverie to keep on task and continue on with my day.
Any article that discusses the benefits of exercise makes sure to point out that it is a natural anti-depressant and anti-anxiety agent. These are two things I struggle with, and to think that it also helps with my ADHD, again, should be and will be seen as a gift to my very special brain.
This starts the experiment, as I’m currently in between medications to try and find something that not only works a little bit better than my previous one, but that doesn’t leave me broke after refills each month.


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