The Walking Brain #ADHD

An Introduction of Sorts

#ETConf20 reflection part two, which again is one of these posts I began writing weeks … or is this months ago now? In this I am pondering three things, Nordic Walking, walking conferences, and the ADHD side of life. One of the things I am constantly working on is finding ways to hack my brain. ADHD comes with a myriad of advantages—national crisis, 1001 problems to solve? No problem! Stay calm, be more productive than ever. Also: Empathy, noticing patterns, creativity, hyper focus etc

However, it also comes with soul destroying self-doubt because you once again couldn’t make your mouth stop. Should I ever be interrogated, don’t bother with truth serum. No need. Or not being sure if you got all the subtext right, or came across—once again as pushy because your enthusiasm literally steamrolls people into pancakes of overwhelmedness. Prepared lunch and forgot it in the fridge, went to work in two different shoes, carry a banana until it’s fossilised. Anyway, maybe this little reflection helps another person with the Hunter’s Brain (Tom Hartmann).*

By the way, I am regularly stopped by people when out Nordic Walking as it is not very common in Scotland. Just to summarise what the trainer said: if done properly it can take up to 80% of impact off your knees, while strengthening your muscles, it’s a whole body workout, core and all, with at least as much impact as jogging but not the associated damage to joints etc. If you want to know more let me know in comments.

Nordic Walking Plug
Nordic Walking Poles

Walking Meetings

A while back one of my colleagues told me that they had begun to hold walking meetings and really enjoyed this form of conversation and activity. Of course I had to try it out immediately, and enjoyed these meetings much more than sitting in a stuffy office. Needless to say there is some evidence that it improves executive function.

I also remember a while back when I was still teaching undergraduate students, I came across some research which indicated that learning and studying outdoors can enhance cognition and memory retention.

A summary of one of the research projects is here:

Just to make sure you are staying with me… 😉

When working from campus and having to do some serious work I often debunk to the Botanical Garden sitting outside when ever possible or in one of the palm houses if torrential downpour prohibits to open my notepad or tablet. I have taken to holding walking meetings regularly, and often go for extended walks if I have to do some serious thinking. I know other colleagues prefer one of the many coffee shops as their happy working space–particularly if you share an office. However, for me there is also something in movement that works well, beyond the being in nature aspect. Anyway, so that habit I combine—thanks to headphones and voice notes—with Nordic Walking. So all hands free. Another tip, if you struggle to start writing, record your thoughts either as audio or as voice notes. It does help with the fear of an empty page and not knowing where to begin.

Walking Conferences

When lockdown came along with the strict one-a-day outside exercise, I undergone some considerable effort to identify the times least people where outside. Because two meters seems too much of an ask …


One day this happened to fall in the middle of a conference presentation, so I decided to take the conference on a Nordic Walk.

What a revelation!

Truly. So apparently the ADHD side of life can listen better, and misses less details, when the body to which The Brain is attached is on the move! From now on I just want to do walking conferences. This was brilliant. I don’t think I am able to convey just how significant the difference in experience this digital on the move conference was. Incidentally, one of the student presenters during this conference session, who also has ADHD said, that they benefited from recorded lecturers for the same reason.

Normally conferences are so stressful that I often end up being sick for most of the night due to system overload, having PTSD-like flashbacks of faces, noises, smells, conversations, images, not being able to make it stop. I think this is The Brain Running a defrag process—maybe I should upgrade to Windows 10. And I am totally stressed out because I have to sit still all day, and can’t move. I obviously have coping mechanisms, being professional and all that jazz. But that’s just that coping versus a genuinely positive experience. And this was the first time in my life where I was lucky to experience how a difference in provision and design can truly be more accessible.

Feels pretty much like that


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