New treatment for ADHD – a walk in the park

A small study at the University of Illinois shows that children with ADHD were more attentive after a 20-minute walk in a park than after a similar walk in a downtown area or a residential neighbourhood. After the three walks, which were identical in every aspect apart from their location, the children were blind tested using a standard neurocognitive test in which practice doesn't improve your score. 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.

On the days of the walks, all of the children, including those who usually took medication, remained unmedicated. Interestingly, a ‘dose of nature’ was found to be as helpful – at least for a while – as a dose of stimulants. What remains to be seen is how long the effects of a dose of nature last. The sample size in this study was relatively small (only 17 children) but other larger studies are suggesting the same phenomenon.

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First published in December 2008

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