Nature’s Ritalin for the Marathon Mind
Nurturing Your ADHD Child with Exercise
By Stephen C. Putnam
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.
This book 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.
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About the Author
Stephen C. Putnam
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.
What People are Saying
“The author uses sound medical research and studies to back up his concepts. This handy guide could transform the struggle with a ‘difficult’ child into an enjoyable, healthy relationship.” —ForeWord Magazine
“We highly recommend Stephen Putnam’s book. It’s full of tips and ideas for helping your child through the world of exercise. If you have a child with ADHD or ADD, you’ll return to the book often.”—Carol Goodrow, KidsRunning.Com
“In testing his theories, Putnam brings together a wide range of studies, anecdotal evidence, and laboratory research. The results of that research show aerobic exercises have a chemical effect on the brain similar to that of Ritalin and other psychostimulant drugs. The book provides details on determining the optimum amount of exercise, setting exercise schedules and motivating an ADHD child. While not an “anti-Ritalin” book, it does introduce alternate treatments and will be a welcome resource for parents of ADHD children.”—Today’s Librarian
“Stephen C. Putnam’s Nature’s Ritalin for the Marathon Mind details an obvious but often overlooked ADHD treatment: strenuous movement. Provides suggestions for motivation, scheduling, and determining the right amount of activity.”—From Mothering magazine’s list of “Latest and Greatest Books for What’s Bothering You”
“Steve Putnam shares an important concept that needs to be fully considered as a useful and eminently rational alternative to those popular drugs whose long-term effects on our children’s brains/minds and personality development remain to be evaluated. He DARES us to get it right.”—Jaak Panksepp, Ph.D., Dept. of Psychology, Bowling Green State University
“Steve Putnam’s book is fascinating. It is a ‘must-read’ for anybody interested in ADHD.”—Thom Hartman, author, Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception
“Nature’s Ritalin for the Marathon Mind offers an abundance of information and practical advice on the use of physical activity as an alternative or adjunctive treatment for ADHD. The book provides a stimulating, balanced discussion of issues associated with incorporating exercise into the treatment regimen.”—Britton W. Brewer, Ph.D., co-editor, Exploring Sport and Exercise Psychology
“I find this volume very exciting. It makes avoiding the obvious extremely difficult. It could have a major impact on our lives and the lives of our children. I hope we’ll take heed.”—W. Mark Shipman, M.D., director, Institute for Developmental Research, San Diego Center for Children
Table of Contents
Foreword by W. Mark Shipman, M.D.
- The Marathon Mind and the Granola Effect
- Hardship, Exercise, and Optimal Stimulation
- The Neurochemistry of Optimal Stimulation
- Real-World Exercise and Optimal Stimulation
- Exercise and Family Dynamics
- What Kind of Exercise?
- Biofeedback—Checking the Heart Rate
- The Fun, The Dosage
- Risk Management
- Some Conclusions