By Jeff Copper, MBA, PCC, PCAC, CPCC, ACG – April 17, 2023
Just as a physical activity requires exercise on a regular basis to develop a skill, ADHD requires attention exercise to develop attention skills. With that in mind, I’m sharing a cool tip with you that correlates physical exercise and attention exercise.
Over the years while I was on the swim team, little did I know I was doing attention exercises for hours a day, looking at a pace clock, thinking I was just swimming, when I was also doing the physical exercise.
Yes, all exercise can be relatively boring, whether it’s swimming or some other activity or doing attention exercises. But the real point of it is to develop some skill, so you just have to practice it.
What I didn’t realize was that I didn’t necessarily know that I was actually becoming very aware of time by focusing on the time, which actually gave me a very good sense of the passage of time. From a time perspective, those with ADHD are often victims of time blindness.
Sometimes the exercise is quite strenuous or focused, but it also could be as simple as using your watch to guess if you can determine when a minute or a certain period of time has elapsed. Probably not something you’re going to do every day or on a regular basis, but if you are struggling with time, you may find these attention exercises are the way to gain the skill.
If this resonates with you, please watch my video, “ADHD and Athletics: Combining Physical and Attention Exercises,” for more insights. https://youtu.be/aCGEkLX843s
Welcome everybody to this edition of Attention Talk Video. I’m your host, ADHD and Attention Coach Jeff Copper, and today I’m here to talk about a lived experience and the concept of physical exercise and attention exercise, and to do a correlation between the two and reveal something I think that’s somewhat illuminating. And by the way, I’d like to thank … There’s an individual who made a comment asking us to do more videos relating athletics and ADHD back when I did one on resting.
So here’s the thing, I swam in high school and college as a competitive swimmer, basically four hours a day. And if you’ve ever been to a pool, there’s pace clocks, so big white things with the red arrow going around circles with the second hand, and as a swimmer, you get involved in what’s called interval swimming. And what that is, is you’ll do a set of repeats, like maybe ten 100s, 100s being yards. And you might leave every two minutes, so every time the red hand hits the top or the sixty is what we call it, that’s a minute. If you swim it in 90 seconds, then you have 30 seconds of rest. If you swim it in a minute, you’ve got a minute’s worth of rest, et cetera.
And the thing about this is as a swimmer doing this over and over and over again, I was practicing, I was focused on swimming, I was exercising, and I was trying to build my anaerobic and aerobic energy systems. But what I didn’t necessarily know at the time is I was actually becoming very aware of time by looking up at the clocks and knowing when a minute has passed or two minutes passed on a regular basis, I’ve developed a very good sense of time. And so in the ADD world, I think there’s an interesting correlation because as an attention coach, because if you listen to stuff I talk about being an ADHD and attention coach, watching the pace clock on these intervals on a regular basis over and over and over for four hours a day for over 11 years, gave me a very good sense of the passage of time. As I described it, it was an attention exercise. I wasn’t specifically out there to do the attention exercises from a time perspective, I thought I was there for swimming, and had a byproduct.
Now understand that all exercise is relatively boring, whether it’s swimming or doing attention exercises, looking at a pace clock. But the point really is, is to develop some skills. Sometimes you have to practice it, and an attention exercise might be as simple as turning your watch on and thinking about it and saying stop and looking at it to see if a minute has elapsed or two minutes elapsed for a period of time. Probably not something that you’re going to do every day at on a regular basis, but if you are struggling with time, these types of concepts, these attention exercises that you do are the way to do it.
As an aside, a lot of people talk about time variances, where if you’re going around your house, you do a task, you predict how long it’s going to take, and then you time how long it’s going to take, and you calculate the difference between those two. I call that attention exercise. You’re going around and grabbing data and trying to get a sense of how on time or how good your predictions are or not as a mean to build your time management skills.
So anyway, I’m sharing this insight for those out there. Sometimes ADHD requires a little bit of attention exercise on a regular basis to develop those skills, and this is a cool one that I’m sharing with you that I do have a very good sense of time. Little did I know I was doing attention exercises hours a day for many years looking at a pace clock thinking I was just swimming. So with that, we hope you’ve enjoyed this insight. Please subscribe to our video by hitting the subscribe button and leave comments. This video came about as a result of somebody leaving a comment, wanting more tips correlating exercise and attention exercise. So with that, we hope you’ve enjoyed it. Take care.