For kids with ADHD, regular 'green time' is linked to milder symptoms

Discussion in 'Parenting News' started by runawaybunny, Sep 15, 2011.

  1. runawaybunny

    runawaybunny Guest

    A study of more than 400 children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has found a link between the children's routine play settings and the severity of their symptoms, researchers report. Those who regularly play in outdoor settings with lots of green (grass and trees, for example) have milder ADHD symptoms than those who play indoors or in built outdoor environments, the researchers found. The association holds even when the researchers controlled for income and other variables.

    The study appears in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being.

    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.

    Although many children with ADHD are medicated, most "would benefit from a low-cost, side-effect-free way of managing their symptoms," wrote University of Illinois crop sciences visiting teaching associate Andrea Faber Taylor and natural resources and environmental sciences professor Frances (Ming) Kuo, the authors of the study.

    Previous research has shown that brief exposure to green outdoor spaces and in one study, to photos of green settings can improve concentration and impulse control in children and adults in the general population individuals without ADHD.

    These findings led Taylor and Kuo to examine whether children diagnosed with ADHD, which is characterized by deficits in concentration and impulse control, might also benefit from "green time." In a study published in 2004, they analyzed data from a national Internet-based survey of parents of children formally diagnosed with ADHD and found that activities conducted in greener outdoor settings did correlate with milder symptoms immediately afterward, compared to activities in other settings.

    The new study explores other data from the same survey to determine whether the effect also is true for green play settings that are routinely experienced the park, playground or backyard that a child visits daily or several times a week.

    "Before the current study, we were confident that acute exposures to nature sort of one-time doses have short-term impacts on ADHD symptoms," Kuo said. "The question is, if you're getting chronic exposure, but it's the same old stuff because it's in your backyard or it's the playground at your school, then does that help?"

    To address this question, 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.

    The researchers found no significant differences between boys and girls or income groups in terms of the relationship between the greenness of play settings and overall symptom severity.

    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."

    Story Source:
    The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, via AAAS.

    Journal Reference: Could Exposure to Everyday Green Spaces Help Treat ADHD? Evidence from Children's Play Settings

    This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ConductDisorders or its staff.
  2. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Interesting. Thanks for posting.
  3. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Now... How to get the kid to STAY outdoors?

    Though this makes a LOT of sense. As a child, I was a "little brown bean" from being in the sunshine all the time. And I was a bookworm while inside...
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    As a theory - it makes sense. We weren't "designed" for urban life. Everything about our make-up works better in either a hunter-gatherer life, or a farming life. As in, "old style"... before tractors.

    Back then - like, my grandpa's day - ADHD existed, but it wasn't a "problem". Life had room for those traits. You burned off your steam in the outdoors, got your adrenalin fix from a stubborn cow or a pesky horse, and so on.

    I'm not saying we go back to those days - minimal health care, high accident rates, etc. But... psychologically, we need the "outdoors".

    When the kids know that (ours do), there are ways to get it. The research just gives us a better "reason" for doing what we love anyway!
    When the kids do not want that... you're right - how on earth do you get them that daily fix of "green"?

    Again its a case of researchers telling us what we already kind of know... and NOT telling us the part that we wish we had the answers to.
  5. keista

    keista New Member

    I'd like the research to go a step further to see if we should paint our kids' rooms green. They specifically cited differences between green field areas and wooded areas - the wooded NOT as effective. So, is it reasonable to inferr that it has to do, at least in part, with the actual color? If so, then painting your bookworm's or video gamer's room green may have a therapeutic effect. That's what I want to know.
  6. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, it would be nice to think so, Keista - but somehow I don't think green paint would have quite the same effect as trees, and leaves, and grass, and sunshine, and wind... you know :)
  7. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Keista -

    You and Malika are probably both somewhat right.
    I'll not be substituting green paint for time in the great outdoors... but...
    You might find this interesting:

    In other words - green paint may have some of those effects.
  8. This explains to me why easy child, who has a big dose of ADHD loves the out-of-doors. He hiked the Appalachian Trail in its
    entirety last year, and hikes every chance he gets on the weekends now that he has a job. I love the fact that he has
    found this passion that must be helping him cognitively!