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Running Helps University Student With ADHD

University of Sioux Falls athlete, Eva Studt trains about 15 hours each week with her Track and Field teammates. This is in addition to a full class load and studying. But the sophomore Psychology major would never consider giving up the sport.

The Custer, South Dakota native lives with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and says running helps her focus and improves her overall mental wellbeing. SDBP’s Lura Roti and Jordyn Henderson have this story.

“That’s one thing I love about running, it’s one of the only times when my mind quiets down and I can just dial in on one thing,” Eva Studt said.

A quite mind allows Eva Studt to focus. And focus is important to a university student living with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD.

Multi-media producer, Jordyn Henderson and I follow Studt out of the training room and find a quieter place to sit down to visit so we can gain a better understanding.

“When I am reading a book or trying to read a book, I will be looking at the page and reading the same thing over and over again. But I'm also telling myself, “focus in, you're reading right now, you're reading, you're reading, we're reading, we're reading … what's that word?” And I am having to tell myself, “Focus. Focus.” But then all I'm focusing on is trying to focus and telling myself that I'm focusing rather than just focusing. It’s very distracting in itself,” Studet said.

The ability to focus is not the only challenge ADHD presents.

“A lot of it is in my lack of time perception. So, I have anxiety about being late, but I'm constantly late because I don't have any perception of time. And so, I'd say that this is probably my biggest battle is procrastination and lack of any time awareness whatsoever,” Studt said.

Studt was 11 when she discovered running helped her. The high school coach encouraged her to join the team.

University of Sioux Falls athlete Eva Studt lives with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and says running helps her focus and improves her overall mental wellbeing.
Courtesy Photo
University of Sioux Falls athlete Eva Studt lives with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and says running helps her focus and improves her overall mental wellbeing.

“Within the next couple of months of training I found out that I was feeling a lot happier a lot of the time. I was a lot easier to talk to. I was just very much a nicer person to be around. But on top of that, when school started I found that it was a lot easier for me to come home and focus on homework and get things done right away because all the extra energy that would normally be distracting to me, I didn't find myself getting up 15 times because I was just like so jittery and wanting to move around so much, because I had gotten all of that out of my system, so I was able to sit down and actually focus,” Studt said.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Mark Perrenoud said along with plenty of sleep, exercise is recommended for individuals with ADHD.

“There has been research that says aerobic exercise is helpful with lessening the symptoms of ADHD. … It is relevant, like the importance of recess for kids – but especially kids with ADHD, it is good for them to get out and use that energy and burn that energy,” Perrenoud said.

Eva Studt was in third grade when a professional diagnosed her with ADHD. But even with a diagnosis, she said teachers treated her as though she was in control of her behaviors.

“We both got our desks pushed to the side of the classroom and she put tape on the floor. And put our names on them. And said that we couldn't move or get up or do anything unless we had to go to the bathroom or sharpen our pencil. And it was that sort of thing where I did not, I did not understand at the time and I didn't know up until the up until doing the senior project, how much that impacted me emotionally and just my development in general. … the disorder is just very, very misunderstood especially in younger kids,” Studt said.

To gain a better understanding of how her own brain worked, Studt chose ADHD as the focus of her senior research project. By learning about how her brain works, Studt says she began to heal from a negative self-image brought on by years of being misunderstood by teachers and peers.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing and understanding how your brain works. I mean I cried tears of relief. This seems a little overkill, but I mean when I was writing the first paper, I remember writing the first paper, my junior year for my AP bio class and about ADHD and I was bouncing back and forth between my mom and I about the different things that I was finding. And we were just going through and being like, “Oh my gosh, that makes so much sense,” Studt said.

Along with running, medication and a better understanding of how ADHD impacts her brain and behaviors, Studt implements organizational and time management strategies. She ended her freshman year on the Dean’s List. Empowered by what she has learned, Eva Studt wants to help other children. She plans to become a child psychologist.

Lura Roti grew up on a ranch in western South Dakota but today she calls Sioux Falls home. She has worked as a freelance journalist for more than two decades. Lura loves working with the SDPB team to share the stories of South Dakota’s citizens and communities. And she loves sharing her knowledge with the next generation. Lura teaches a writing course for the University of Sioux Falls.