This article from the New York Times reports that children with ADHD benefited from short walks in natural settings. I wonder if there are even greater benefits to a weekend in the woods?
A small study conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign looked at how the environment influenced a child’s concentration skills. The researchers evaluated 17 children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, who all took part in three 20-minute walks in a park, a residential neighborhood and a downtown area.
After each walk, the children were given a standard test… The study found that children were able to focus better after the “green” walks compared to walks in other settings.
Although the study is small, the data support several earlier studies suggesting that natural settings influence psychological health. In 2004, a survey of parents of 450 children found that “green” outdoor activities reduced A.D.H.D. symptoms more than activities in other settings.
Despite the small size, the study is important because it involves an objective test of attention and doesn’t rely on children’s or parents’ impressions. During the walks, all of the children were unmedicated — participants who normally took medications to control their A.D.H.D. symptoms stayed off the drugs on the days of the walks.
The researchers found that a “dose of nature” worked as well or better than a dose of medication on the child’s ability to concentrate.