Being Outdoors and Exercising Can Help ADHD Symptoms

A study finds that taking a walk in the park reduced the impact of ADHD.

Posted Apr 21, 2012

A study by Taylor and Kuo (2009), has found that time spent outside can help reduce the impact of ADHD symptoms. Not only that, but park environments seem to have more an impact that city settings. 

Seventeen children with professionally-diagnosed ADHD, ages 7 to 12, experienced three different treatments. Two of the treatments consisted of a 20-minute guided walk in the city (one downtown, one in a neighborhood), while one treatment was a 20-minute guided walk through a city park. Each walk was done one week apart, and the order of the walks was randomized.

Children with ADHD had more improved scores of attention after walking in the park, compared to scores after both city walks. Raters were blinded as to what walk the children had experienced. 

I've noticed in my practice that people with ADHD, regardless of age, tend to have an affinity for nature and the outdoors. 

A quote on the power of the outdoors, from my book Adult ADD: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed (2011):

"Being outside, for me, is not a luxury — it's a necessity. I really can't sit still and focus until I've been outside doing something. It's part of my daily routine, just like brushing my teeth." - Alicia

Taking breaks and walking outside has become a standard suggestion for clients and patients.  Being outside, even if it's just for 15 or 20 minutes, can help mood, and possiblity symptoms of distractibility.

Copyright 2012 Sarkis Media LLC

Taylor, A.F., and Kuo, F.E. (2009).  Children with attention deficits concentrate better after walk in the park.  Journal of Attention Disorders 12(5):402-409.