Kids Need Green Time

ADHD symptoms can be managed by playing outside

(RxWiki News) Kids will be kids inside or outside. Even kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder need some play time. Let them feel the grass between their toes, you’ll be glad you did.

Does it really matter where kids are playing as long as they're playing? Researchers believe the environment actually matters - especially when it comes to children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Greener areas are better.

"Let your kids enjoy some fresh air."

Andrea Faber Taylor, a crop sciences visiting teaching associate at the University of Illinois, and Frances (Ming) Kuo, Ph.D., an associate professor for natural resources and environmental sciences at the University of Illinois, believe “green time” is a good time for children who suffer from ADHD.

Green time refers to playing in settings outdoors that are more natural like the backyard, a park, or soccer field. Any area that has trees or an expansive lawn is considered greener.

The researchers used a national Internet-based survey of parents and children who were formally diagnosed with ADHD. The settings that were explored included environments that are regularly used like a park, playground or backyard.

The results indicated kids who played in greener environments had milder ADHD symptoms than both indoor and built outdoor settings. Kids that regularly played in open green areas like soccer fields or an expansive lawn benefited more by having more mild ADHD symptoms.

There was no difference found between sexes or household income.

These findings don’t prove playtime in green space reduces symptom severity, but there is definitely a cause-and-effect relationship seen between the exposure to nature and improved concentration and impulse control, Kuo says. This could be a low-cost, side-effect free way to help manage ADHD symptoms, Kuo adds.

The observational study is published in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being.

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Review Date: 
September 15, 2011