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Does being outside really help with Attention Deficit?

For children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), tasks that require concentration such as doing homework or taking a test can be very difficult. A study conducted at the University of Illinois shows that children with ADHD demonstrate greater attention after a 20-minute walk in a park than after a similar walk in a downtown area or a residential neighborhood.

  • Children with ADHD or ADD showed significantly reduced symptoms following after-school or weekend activities in green outdoor settings (natural areas such as parks, farms, or a green backyard) compared to activities in other settings, including built outdoor settings (parking lots, downtown areas) or indoor settings.
  • Analysis was based on parents’ reports of their children’s behavior during the hour after the activity, specifically:
    • Ability to focus on unappealing tasks
    • Ability to complete tasks
    • Ability to listen and follow directions
    • Ability to resist distractions
  • Particularly noteworthy was the finding that “green” areas were more effective than other outdoor areas in reducing ADHD/ADD symptoms, suggesting that it was not merely the fresh air and space to move around outside that was important, but rather the natural setting itself.

Source: Debra Levey Larson "Walk in the Park Improves ADHD"