Walk in the Park Improves ADHD
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 simple, inexpensive remedy may be a “dose of nature.”
A study conducted at the
The study, conducted by child environment and behavior researchers Andrea Faber Taylor and Frances E. Kuo was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Attention Disorders.
“From our previous research, we knew there might be a link between spending time in nature and reduced ADHD symptoms,” said Faber Taylor. “So to confirm that link we conducted a study in which we took children on walks in three different settings – one especially “green” and two less “green” – and kept everything about the walks as similar as possible.”
Some children took the “green” walk first; others took it second or last. After each walk, an experimenter who didn’t know which walk the child had been on tested their attention using a standard neurocognitive test called Digit Span Backwards, in which a series of numbers are said aloud and the child recites them backwards. It’s a test in which practice doesn’t improve your score.
“We compared each child’s performance to their own performance on different walks,” said Faber Taylor. “And when we compared the scores for the walks in different environments, we found that after the walk in the park children generally concentrated better than they did after a walk in the downtown area or the neighborhood area. The greenest space was best at improving attention after exposure.”
“What this particular study tells us is that the physical environment matters,” said Kuo. “We don’t know what it is about the park, exactly – the greenness or lack of buildings – that seems to improve attention, but the study tells us that even though everything else was the same – who the child was with, the levels of noise, the length of time, the time of day, whether the child was on medication – if we kept everything else the same, we just changed the environment, we still saw a measurable difference in children’s symptoms. And that’s completely new. No one has done a study looking at a child in different environments, in a controlled comparison where everything else is the same.”
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