Walking With ADHD

I’ve always enjoyed walking, and now that we’re all staying home, at least a short walk everyday has become an indispensable part of my life.

Back when we weren’t staying at home, one of my favorite things to do was to travel to a new place and explore it by wandering without a fixed goal. There’s nothing like soaking up the goings-on of a city by just walking and absorbing what’s around you.

Just as walking frees you to go in whatever direction seems promising, it frees your mind, your thoughts, your stream of consciousness.

Walking gets you thinking. And today walking got me thinking about … walking with ADHD.

It’s not as simple as saying that I enjoy walking because I have ADHD, but having ADHD doesn’t hurt. Walking provides experiences the ADHD brain craves – it provides novelty as you walk around and see new things, and it provides ongoing movement.

In a sense, walking is like fidgeting. It’s a way to avoid sitting still. Sometimes when I need to think intensely about something I’m working on, I get up and start walking around without necessarily even realizing it. Fidgeting helps with focusing for ADHDers, and maybe walking does too.

A 2009 study found that children with ADHD concentrated better after a 20-minute walk in the park compared with walks in a downtown or neighborhood area. Walking may be especially useful, then, as a means of connecting with the mental health benefits of nature.

Having said that, I’m enthusiastic about urban walking, too, and I think I’m not alone there. Walking is the most direct way to learn about and experience a city. And because the ADHD brain can be open to seeing where its senses take it without a fixed plan, maybe it’s well situated to take advantage of the process of discovery that a spontaneous walk in the city can offer.

The irony is that as much as I’m ready to wax poetic about the wonder of walking, I still tend to walk like I want to get where I’m going as fast as possible. Chalk it up to impatience, hyperactivity, or the ADHD tendency to rush.

That’s part of the beauty of walking, though: even if it’s an activity we don’t always give much thought to, it’s one we can all do a little differently, in whatever way we see fit.

How do you walk with ADHD?

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