If you think about it, how much more time do you spend on-line or watching TV during the winter, when in the summer you would be out riding your bike or at the beach.
For people ADHD, keeping active year-round isn’t just a good idea, it’s key in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression and is also known to help with symptoms of ADHD. It’s no surprise that Michael Phelps is able to manage his ADHD without medication – the man’s life is built around exercise.
Studies reveal exercise treats ADHD
There are multiple studies that show exercise is critical to brain functioning:
Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey – was published earlier this year is filled with case studies which demonstrate the connection between exercise and brain functioning including ADHD. (Click the link above to purchase the book and support the Edge Foundation.)
Inactive Teens More at Risk for Behavioral Problems, Health Day, October 14, 2008. A recent study of teenagers in Finland revealed that inactive boys and girls were more likely to have attention problems than their active peers. It asserts that exercise is a highly effective method in easing depression and anxiety and urges teens to build regular exercise as a lifelong health habit.
ADHD Coaching Keeps Your Exercise Program on Track
It’s hard to start and exercise program, and even more difficult to make it a long-term habit. ADHD coaching can help you stay on track with your exercise goals. Checking in with someone about your weekly exercise goals, can be a way to set goals you can keep over time, stay on track and problem solve when you aren’t able to meet your goals.
The Edge Foundation offers coaches who are specifically trained and experience in working with high school and college students. Sign upand get your EDGE today!
And while your at it, consider exercising outdoors. This week another study shows that a walk in the park is also highly beneficial to improving attention in children with ADHD.
Now it’s your turn, what do you do to keep on track with your exercise goals? Leave a comment and share your success or struggles with other Edge readers.
Why is vitamin D so important?
If you don’t get enough vitamin D, it can affect the way you feel and how well you perform, which makes this vitamin crucial.
What is important to know about vitamin D production via sun exposure?
Your body naturally makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. The form of vitamin D that you get from the sun is called D3 (also known as cholecalciferol), which is derived from cholesterol. The amount of vitamin D you get from exposing your bare skin to sun is dependent on several factors. They are:
1) Where you live – the closer to the equator you live, the easier it is for your body to synthesize vitamin D from the sun’s rays all year round. For instance, if you live at a northern latitude like Anchorage, Alaska, your body would create less vitamin D during the winter than someone who lives in Miami because people who live in Florida get more exposure per unit of time to the UVB rays that are necessary to produce vitamin D.
2) The amount of skin you expose – if you wear clothing that covers most of your skin, you may be at risk for vitamin D deficiency. This also means that people who train indoors during winter months may have to rely on their bodies’ vitamin D stores, which further increases their risk for deficiency. Cloudy weather can also be a problem because fewer UVB rays reach your skin on cloudy days.
3) The color of your skin – people who have darker skin may also have trouble synthesizing vitamin D from the sun. The pigment melanin, which is more prevalent in people with darker skin, reduces your body’s ability to make vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure. Essentially, this means that people who have pale skin produce vitamin D more quickly than people with darker skin. Skin-color typology is generally arranged into the following categories:
Type I – White; very fair; red or blond hair; blue eyes; freckles Type II – White; fair; red or blond hair; blue, hazel, or green eyes Type III – Cream white; fair; with any eye or hair color; very common Type IV – Brown; typical Mediterranean Caucasian skin Type V – Dark Brown; mid-eastern skin types Type VI – Black
In the context of vitamin D production, if you have skin type I to III, you produce vitamin D more quickly than if you have skin type IV to VI. A good rule of thumb is to get half the sun exposure it takes for your skin to turn pink to get your recommended amount of vitamin D. After you have exposed your skin for enough time, cover up with clothing and go back into the shade. A dark-skinned person might need 10 times more sun exposure than a lighter-skinned person to produce the same amount of vitamin D.
Vitamin D and Healthful Diets
The federal government’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans notes that “nutrients should come primarily from foods. Foods in nutrient-dense, mostly intact forms contain not only the essential vitamins and minerals that are often contained in nutrient supplements, but also dietary fiber and other naturally occurring substances that may have positive health effects. …Dietary supplements…may be advantageous in specific situations to increase intake of a specific vitamin or mineral.”
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans describes a healthy diet as one that:
- Emphasizes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products.
- Milk is fortified with vitamin D, as are many ready-to-eat cereals and some brands of yogurt and orange juice. Cheese naturally contains small amounts of vitamin D.
- Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
- Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel are very good sources of vitamin D. Small amounts of vitamin D are also found in beef liver and egg yolks.
Vitamin D does seem to have multiple neurodevelopmental and neuroregulatory properties, and may go well with comorbid disorders such as schizophrenia, speech difficulties, memory problems, and (perhaps most strongly) depressive symptoms. Please keep in mind, however, that it may not be possible to simply “supplement these problems away” with extra vitamin D. A deficiency in this vitamin often manifests itself in many ways, some of which closely parallel ADHD or related disorders. Nevertheless, supplementing may not be a bad idea, especially if you live in an area that gets minimal sunlight for part of (or all of) the year. Some rough guidelines for vitamin D intake can be found here.
Vigorous exercise linked to higher vitamin D levels, lower heart disease risk
It’s long been known that vigorous exercise lowers heart disease risk. Now, new research from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) suggests some new reasons why that’s so—most notably, that it boosts vitamin D.
Researchers found that three or more hours a week of vigorous exercise—such as running, jogging, or playing basketball or soccer—can reduce the risk of heart attack by 22%. They also found that those who exercised vigorously have higher levels of vitamin D as well as higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.
“The fact that vitamin D plays a role in the relationship between exercise and risk of heart disease is a new finding,” lead author Andrea Chomistek, a researcher in HSPH’s nutrition department, told USA Today. “This likely comes from being outside more. People who exercise tend to be out in the sun, which raises their vitamin D level.”