Recently a Today article surfaced discussing why some kids are being prescribed cycling as therapy for ADHD. Long time readers will understand why this is significant to me, but for those uninitiated in the Chainring Saga please let me elaborate.
When I was 33 years old I made a shocking self-discovery: I have ADHD. It took a year before I had an official diagnosis (through a free university psych clinic). Within a month my special ed teacher wife suggested that I likely have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) instead or comorbid with ADHD.
In the eight years since my discovery I have spent a lot of time angry at the world. I’ve wallowed in regret. I’ve surfed the waves of depression. And sometimes I even revel in my superhuman abilities. I wish I could always see my wiring as a gift. I can’t. Too often my brain feels like a major limiting factor in what I see as success in life.
One thing that making the discoveries and learning so much about myself is that I truly do understand why I am drawn to movement activities all the time. I know why I’m compelled to ride my bike, hike, rock climb, or run all the time. And I better understand the benefits of allowing myself daily doses of those activities.
So the article was no major revelation to me. It did help validate my propensity for giving in to compulsion. It has made me feel somewhat better about what I perceive that others perceive as obsession on my part. My dirt therapy is valid. My mountain bike really is my friend.
As I pondered this on my most recent long run I had another minor revelation: super long activities don’t provide the same benefit.
A twelve hour mountain bike race does nothing for my atypical neurology. I’m wrecked beyond belief for a couple of days and when the effects wear off and my brain is functional again I need more proprioceptive therapy to focus my mind. It seems like a solid hour of activity provides a good benefit. Maybe as much as two hours would have a positive effect over the course of a day. Much more than that and I start breaking down. If I run or ride hard for three or four hours there’s no way I’m going to sit down and be productive at work. But a solid hour circuit at Veterans for lunch is just the ticket.
In a perfect world I would work in a place where I could commute in by bike and then run out at lunch and either ride or run on some bumpy dirt trails.
The short of it is that there is growing evidence that physical activity is key to good mental health. I’m a true believer.