Working Out on Adderall, Is It Safe? Risks, What to Do

Posted June 2, 2021 by Michael Chamberlain - See Editorial Guidelines

Working out on Adderall might be an issue for some. Here we’re going to walk through whether it’s safe to work out on Adderall. We’ll discuss the risks and what to be aware of during your workout.

Let’s start with the brief summary and then move on to look more in detail…

Working out on Adderall – Working out on Adderall is generally safe. It’s recommended to exercise before taking it, or four to six hours after effects have worn off. This is because Adderall increases your heart and breathing rate. Make sure to check with a medical professional who knows your history before working out.

With this summary in mind, so we can understand more easily how Adderall may impact a workout routine, let’s start with what Adderall is and how it works.

What is Adderall, and how does it work? 

According to scientific studies, Adderall is considered a safe and long-term effective treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

Adderall and other ADHD medications are generally prescribed for children, teenagers, and adults with symptoms of ADHD.

Adderall increases the activity of several neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and especially dopamine. 

However, although this is how Adderall works, it’s still not widely understood how the medication works for ADHD. Vyvanse is another medication available which you might also consider.

So you might be wondering how Adderall affects your performance at the gym and whether it’s safe to work out on Adderall.

Related: Vyvanse and exercise.

Is it safe to work out on Adderall?

Firstly, it’s crucial to understand that if you haven’t been prescribed Adderall by a physician or other medical professional, then you should not be taking it at any time during a workout session. 

Using the drug without a prescription is, in fact, illegal, and those who take it without an evaluation by a healthcare provider may be liable to prosecution. 

For those diagnosed by a healthcare provider and prescribed Adderall, it is safe to use if you wish to exercise. 

According to Oxford Treatment Center, part of The American Addiction Center, the effects of any stimulant, including Adderall, on physical performance does depend on the dose. 

Taking a smaller dose of Adderall before working out may help to increase energy levels and performance. However, larger amounts of the drug become detrimental—the potential for many of the side effects associated with the drug increases. 

The safest way to take Adderall when planning to work out is to either take your daily dose after a workout or wait until the drug has left your central nervous system. This is usually between 4 and 6 hours, depending on your personal dose. 

One of the chief reasons for the recommendations is the fact that Adderall is a stimulant. It can cause significant increases in heart and also breathing rates. 

So, for these reasons, it may be preferable for Adderall users to work out before their daily dose. 

According to experts such as Daphne Scott, MD, a sports medicine specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgeries in Manhattan, New York:

“Any person on Adderall should consult with their provider to determine if it’s safe to exercise while using the medication, one that’s familiar with their history and activity level.”

Working out on Adderall – potential side effects  

Whether on Adderall or not, there are often side effects associated with working out. But if you already have a regular exercise regime, you may notice additional or exacerbated side effects. Here’s a list of side effects that can occur when working out on Adderall.

  • Increased heart rate
  • Palpitations
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness

If you already have a history of some of these side effects, then this should be conveyed to your healthcare provider and more closely monitored. This is particularly relevant where cardio workouts are concerned or where a person has a history of related problems.

If symptoms quickly become heightened and cause pain or real discomfort, particularly if you experience chest pain or trouble breathing while working out on Adderall, then contact your healthcare provider as quickly as possible. Seek immediate medical attention if it is necessary. 

How Adderall might interact with workout supplements

Adderall, even when taken as prescribed, can be harmful when combined with other stimulants. 

This is mainly because most readily available pre-workout supplements contain some form of caffeine, a known stimulant.

Taking more than one stimulant at a time can cause increased stress on the heart and lead to serious heart problems. 

In the worst cases, heart attack or stroke could result when combining stimulants. This is especially a risk in those with a history of heart problems or high blood pressure

Your healthcare provider will be able to correctly advise you on how to include supplements into your daily workout routine, along with being able to determine any risks involved. 

Have an honest conversation with your healthcare provider. This will ensure you will be able to maintain an active lifestyle while understanding any risks involved. You will then be able to work out in the safest way possible if you are taking Adderall or any other kind of prescription drug. 

There is currently little information about the effects of combining Adderall with herbal supplements that might be used by those taking Adderall and wishing to work out. 

Other side effects of using Adderall when working out can include increased blood pressure, palpitations, and even sudden cardiac death. 

Some of the known risks of combining Adderall with other stimulants are listed below.

  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Poor judgment 
  • Possible psychosis 
  • Fainting 
  • Dizziness 
  • Increased blood pressure 
  • Insomnia 
  • Depression 
  • Cardiomyopathy, or an enlargement of the heart 

Adderall misuse for workouts 

According to some experts and other researchers, there are claims that Adderall can improve workout performance and also aid in weight loss. 

In the words of Steven Karceski, MD, an assistant professor of neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine:

“Stimulants, in general, improve attention, concentration, and focus. There may be some logic in terms of how Adderall impacts quickness, not just mental performance but also physical performance.”

Adderall, a mixture of amphetamine salts, stimulates the central nervous system by increasing the activity of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.

Adderall is a combination of two central nervous system stimulants: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.

At the same time, epinephrine or adrenaline rages through the nervous system, effectively putting the body in a fight-or-flight mode. 

This triggers alertness, clarity, and focus while also decreasing appetite. This is why it has historically been misused for working out. 

Unlike pure adrenaline, however, Adderall keeps norepinephrine in your system for longer. This enhances and sustains the fight-or-flight response. 

Working Out on Adderall

Another important reason why Adderall has been used illegally to improve workout performance is that the drug acts as a strong dose of caffeine, waking them up and improving focus.

It’s crucial to note that no one should take Adderall without a prescription from a healthcare provider. Working out on Adderall purely to boost physical abilities is not only dangerous but also illegal. 

How to work out safely using Adderall

There is rarely a single solution for working out on Adderall. All individuals are different and react differently based on many variables. These could include dose, the extent of workout, and individual health conditions.

So, before taking Adderall, it’s important that you consult with a healthcare provider. They can answer questions specific to your dosage and treatment plan.

Conclusion

We hope this gives you greater insight into working out on Adderall. As always, this article is not intended for official advice but as general information. Seek out specific advice from a medical professional.

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