CLINIC: Running on Ritalin
Tue, 6 Dec. 2011 - 1:17 a.m. MT
Credit: ARA Staff - American Running Association
QUESTION: I am wondering about the effects of Ritalin, for Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, on heart rate and running performance. I coach adult runners and have a runner who tells me his heart rate was very high during his college cross-country training: 150 to 170 during an easy jog. I requested a physician’s clearance from him—am I being overly cautious? Jim Bonaparte
Since Ritalin is a stimulant (of adrenalin and other catecholamines), it can increase blood pressure and heart rate. However, as a practical matter, the increases are variable and of the order of 5 to 10 mmHg of blood pressure and 5 bpm for heart rate. Most of the reports in the medical literature are about children. My advice would be that an exercise program can be pursued. I would monitor heart rate and proceed cautiously at first; you can then increase intensity and duration of training. Charles Schulman, MD
This stimulant and others similar to it can result in a somewhat increased resting heart rate. However, these drugs should not have a significant impact on the safety or effectiveness of running for fitness. I am unaware of any information about the effects on competitive performance. Although the scenario you describe sounds safe to me, I share your concern for the safety of intense training in adult runners who are taking medications on a regular basis. I certainly think it is reasonable to ask for a note from your runner’s physician, ensuring the appropriateness of this sort of workout. Theodore N. Keltz, MD (RUNNING & FITNEWS® April / May 2007 • Volume 25, Number 3) DISCLAIMER: The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Please consult your health care provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. The American Running Association (ARA) and its Clinic Advisory Board disclaims responsibility and shall have no liability for any consequences suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site. ARA does not endorse specifically any test, treatment, or procedure mentioned on this site.