Friday, June 02, 2017

Interview With John J. Ratey, MD

Exercise and ADD: An Expert Interview With John J. Ratey, MD
(excerpt from article)

Medscape: For Medscape readers, what advice should doctors give to patients?

Dr. Ratey: They should advise patients to exercise daily. Whatever medical treatment has begun, exercise needs to be included, too. It should be daily. Aerobic and strength training is fine. Balance training is important in patients with ADD and can be accomplished with yoga, tai chi, or balance exercises. Exercise needs to become a lifestyle, a habit.

Medscape: Would regular exercise affect the medication needs of patients with ADD?

Dr. Ratey: It often does. A number of the patients described in my book got off medication completely. In people who have trouble finding the right medication regimen, exercise can really help. The exercises chosen should be fun so that people will want to do them.

Medscape: Does exercise become a chronic medication?

Dr. Ratey: Yes. However, this isn't for everyone. There is a spectrum of severity in ADD. There are plenty of marathoners who still need medicine, but maybe they need less than they would if they didn't run. A number of superathletes have ADD. A prime example today is Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps who was diagnosed at the age of 9 and put on medicine. He found it impossible to stay still in school because of ADD. Then he began swimming. When he got up to 3 hours of daily exercise, he didn't need medication anymore.

Many of these kids develop "learned helplessness syndrome." They've failed so much in the past that they now expect to fail. They get depressed, use drugs, or play video games all day. Exercise prevents people from getting into that. Animal studies have shown that exercise makes it tougher to develop learned helplessness.