Outdoor Walks Good for A.D.D. Kids

Walks in the park improve attention more than walks in the city, residential neighborhood

Science is beginning to show what we've always known: A little fresh air outdoors will do kids a boatload of good. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers decided to see how environment affects kids with attention deficit disorders, and they discovered that spending time hiking in nature can significantly improve concentration.

17 kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder all participated in three 20-minute walks in a park, a residential neighborhood and a downtown area. After each walk, the kids all took an attention test where a group of numbers are said aloud and the kids repeat them backwards. Children who just completed the park walk performed better than kids who just walked in the city or a neighborhood. In every case, a "dose of nature" worked as well or better than medication in improving kids' concentration.

“We can’t say for sure, ‘two hours of outdoor play will get you this many days of good behavior,’ but we can say it’s worth trying,” (Frances E. Kuo, director of the university’s Landscape and Human Health Laboratory) said. “We can say that as little as 20 minutes of outdoor exposure could potentially buy you an afternoon or a couple of hours to get homework done.”

Amen to that. In fact, I'm having a little trouble concentrating right now. I'll ask the BACKPACKER overlords if I can leave now to go hiking for a few days. That should be just enough set me straight until next Friday.

—Ted Alvarez

A ‘Dose of Nature’ for Attention Problems (NY Times)

Via Two-Heel Drive