Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Science confirms Intuition: Cycling Calms the Mind, Meditation & Medication on Wheels!


My brother recently shared an amazing article in Bicycling Magazine. Written by Bruce Barcott, it shares the experience of a young boy diagnosed with ADHD. Adam Leibovitz discovers on his own that bicycling did a better job at controlling the symptoms of ADHD without the side effects of Ritalin.

Anyone who exercises regularly appreciates the mental clarity and overall sense of well-being one derives from working out, but scientists have only dabbled in researching the effects of exercise on the brain. Thankfully, this is now changing. The article quotes a few doctors studying this phenomena:
"A bout of exercise is like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin," says John Ratey, MD, a Harvard Medical School professor who has treated and studied ADHD for more than 20 years. His most recent research is chronicled in his book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. The Prozac effect comes from endorphins. The Ritalin effect, Ratey says, has to do with boosting the concentration of neurotransmitters in the basal ganglia. "Regular exercise can raise the baseline levels of both norepinephrine and dopamine," he says, "which are the same neurotransmitters that Ritalin and Adderall go after."
And it's not just any exercise. Some activities are better brain boosters, and cycling is one of the best. David Conant-Norville, MD, a psychiatrist in Beaverton, Oregon, who specializes in adolescents and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, recently surveyed his colleagues about the best and worst sports for athletes with ADHD. Cycling, swimming and running are tops. At the bottom are soccer, hockey and baseball. The best sports demanded constant physical exertion and a suite of technical movements that engaged brain functions dealing with balance, timing, error correction, decision-making and focus.
It's gratifying to read that the sport you love so much is not only personally satisfying but may also provide beneficial side effects for mental health in general. Were it not for the disturbing method whereby the selection of scientific research inevitably skews towards marketable pharmaceuticals, perhaps we would all be proscribed a bicycle instead of pills in a bottle.

3 comments:

Maria T. said...

Alex
I am very glad you have posted this.
Keep on biking.
LOVE
MOM

lisa fika said...

this is the power of DOing! the power of occupation (as in occupational therapy.) be well. xo.

Megan Taylor said...

i have an appt with genius bar tomorrow. will let you know how it goes. i want to confirm what they told me to do (so i can tell you) and figure out if it's wrong or not. cause something's fishy here and it's not from the sea. xo