A recent study links simple ‘green time’ (time spent outdoors in nature; and for the purposes of this particular study expansive green fields or lawns) to milder symptoms for children with Attention Deficit and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADD, ADHD).
Some complain that we over-diagnose and over- medicate children with ADD or ADHD; some doubt that it is even real. Ask a parent whose child is challenged with these disorders – it’s very real and, thankfully, treatable. Medications, therapies, and modifying approaches to learning all help.
Scouting takes advantage of the joy of getting outdoors to go camping; of reducing life to its essentials, of communing with the natural world. While we have always known this is beneficial there’s a growing body of scientific evidence that getting outdoors has a direct effect on the symptoms of ADD and ADHD.
From Science Daily:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 9.5 percent of children aged 4-17 had been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2007. Symptoms include severe difficulty concentrating, hyperactivity and poor impulse control.
… the researchers examined parents’ descriptions of their child’s daily play setting and overall symptom severity. They also looked at the children’s age, sex, formal diagnosis (ADD or ADHD) and total household income.
The analyses revealed an association between routine play in green, outdoor settings and milder ADHD symptoms.
“On the whole, the green settings were related to milder overall symptoms than either the ‘built outdoors’ or ‘indoors’ settings,” Taylor said.
The researchers also found that children who were high in hyperactivity (diagnosed with ADHD rather than ADD) tended to have milder symptoms if they regularly played in a green and open environment (such as a soccer field or expansive lawn) rather than in a green space with lots of trees or an indoor or built outdoor setting.
Kuo noted that the findings don’t by themselves prove that routine playtime in green space reduces symptom severity in children with ADHD. But in light of all the previous studies showing a cause-and-effect relationship between exposure to nature and improved concentration and impulse control, she said, “it is reasonably safe to guess that that’s true here as well.”
The study was authored by University of Illinois natural resources and environmental sciences professor Frances (Ming) Kuo and crop sciences visiting teaching associate Andrea Faber Taylor appears in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being.