ADHD is a childhood epidemic. By some estimates, 5 percent or more of the school-age children in the U.S. have been diagnosed, and most of them are being treated with powerful prescription drugs. Scientists have now discovered that a simple, basic human activity—exercise—has the same positive influence on the brain without the negative side effects.
Nature's Ritalin for the Marathon Mind shows how, in a great many cases, doses of medication can be decreased or eliminated in favor of a regular schedule of exercise, with vast improvements in the quality of life for the children and their families. The author describes in detail the scientific basis for exercise as therapy, how to determine the optimal schedule, and how to help children become motivated to obtain the appropriate level of exercise without parental nagging. If you are the parent of a hyperactive child, this may be the most important book you will ever read.
This is not an “anti-Ritalin” book. The author notes that in some cases, medication is essential, and that any change in treatment should be done in consultation with a physician. However, he shows that exercise is a far better solution for many children, one that can be safely tested because it is a natural part of life.
Stephen C. Putnam holds an M.Ed.degree in Guidance and Psychological Services from Springfield(Mass.) College. As an adult who had been diagnosed with ADHD, he took up marathon canoe racing and found that the exercise transformed his life. It helped him to focus his mind, and overcome the other effects of ADHD, better than medication. Canoeing also became a healthy, enjoyable family activity that he shared regularly with his children.
In researching the issue (comparing all available laboratory research and interviews with parents, counselors, and other adults who work with children), he was able to confirm that exercise has effects on the brain similar to Ritalin, with similar benefits for those with ADHD.
The result of that research is his book, Nature’s Ritalin for the Marathon Mind: Nurturing your ADHD Child with Exercise. The book has won widespread acclaim from mainstream physicians and other health professionals, as well as those who support alternative treatments. Putnam emphasizes that this is not an “anti-Ritalin” book—as medications have proved their value in a great many cases. However, he has shown that for many children (and adults), a regular schedule of exercise is a viable alternative, without medication’s unwanted side effects.
Foreword by W. Mark Shipman, MD
1. The Marathon Mind and the Granola Effect
2. Hardship, Exercise, and Optimal Stimulation
3. The Neurochemistry of Optimal Stimulation
4. Real-World Exercise and Optimal Stimulation
5. Exercise and Family Dynamics
6. What Kind of Exercise?
8. Biofeedback—Checking the Heart Rate
9. The Fun, The Dosage
10. Risk Management
11. Some Conclusions