Cause and Effect – Obesity
A: The short answer is that exercise anytime is better than no time. That said, the morning is ideal for kids because then they’re ready for the school day–alert and calm. However, with today’s school and work schedules for kids and parents, it’s often not possible to fit in. Second best is right after school–not too close to bedtime (at least 3 hours before sleep time is best), and then they are alert for homework. Try to avoid exercise in the evening when it’s time to be slowing down for the night. Time Magazine’s cover story in 2016 highlighted the benefits of exercise and I zero in on the impact for those with ADHD in Chapter 4 of my book, Getting Ahead of ADHD.
Balancing Between Despair and Lost Hope – Alternative and Mainstream Treatments
Progress is possible:
I encounter two kinds of over-extended feelings about ADHD. On the one hand, individuals run into fatalism or a kind of despair, “there’s nothing I can do.” It’s understandable because ADHD is truly hard to handle but it goes too far because most of the time some progress is possible.
Overly Rosy Promises Are Harmful:
Sometimes we hear overly rosy promises about what can be accomplished by a new therapeutic approach. It’s appropriate to give some hope, but this has to be tempered by recognizing that for most people, there is no single solution that fixes things. The literature on alternative and lifestyle approaches makes it clear that on average, the benefits from diet, exercise, and so on are partial. That means there is some benefit that is “visible to the naked eye” but not a total solution.
Responses to behavioral or lifestyle interventions vary:
The upside though is that the literature also suggests that a behavioral or lifestyle intervention may make it possible to reduce a medication dose. The literature also makes clear that responses vary. For some individuals, a dietary change (for example) may have a dramatic benefit, while for others, it may have no effect. Right now, we cannot tell why this is, and a key goal of research is to determine how to individualize the approach so that you can choose the approach that works best for you. Right now, there is always some trial and error to find the best combination for a given child. But with that in mind, some patience and effort usually will bring benefit. I discuss this balanced approach across in my most recent book, Getting Ahead of ADHD and help you find the way to create your own individualized plan.
Integrated (medical + mental health care) and integrative (traditional + complementary and alternative) approaches to health are growing rapidly. My disclaimer here is that I am not offering a formal or technical definition of integrated care. All I mean by here is that when we treat ADHD, we want to make use of the best that is offered from “mainstream” medicine, including medication and behavioral therapies, and judicious use of the elements of “alternative” or “lifestyle” treatments that are safe and possibly, probably, or definitely effective.
Most individuals with ADHD will at some point need support from a professional. Medications can be incredibly helpful, when used properly and according to published treatment
guidelines. Behavioral counseling can also be very effective, particularly when you are stuck in a cycle of negative exchange with your child’s behavior. In the field of emerging, alternative, and lifestyle treatments, some are unsafe and unproven, some are risky but may work, and others are safe and have varying degrees of evidence for their value. This last group is where I focus most and includes selective approaches to diet, getting control of sleep issues, engaging an exercise program, and a handful of other tools. Evaluating all of these is a key focus of my book. Depending on your situation, you may start with “mainstream” help then add in the lifestyle elements, perhaps then being able to back off some of the medical intervention. In other situations, you may go the reverse route. All are part of integrated and integrative care. In the book I also offer a kind of “decision tree” to help you decide where to start. The key is to individualize to what works for you and your family.