Playing in the Grass May be the Key to Easing ADHD Symptoms

by , 09/23/11

Amazing but true, a new study, published in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, shows that kids who regularly play in outdoor green spaces have milder Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms than those who play regularly indoors or in built outdoor environments. This study back up previous studies that show how kids majorly benefit from green spaces; i.e. spaces with plenty of grass and trees. For example, research posted by The Morton Arboretum shows that ADHD symptoms in children are relieved after contact with nature, asthma symptoms are reduced, and kids who play outdoors have less stress. Specifically, as related to ADHD, past research shows that kids experiencing ADHD can concentrate better, complete tasks better, and follow directions better after playing in a natural green space. Plus, the greener the setting, the more symptom relief.

Lead image ©dunnink via sxc.

Study authors, teaching associate Andrea Faber Taylor and natural resources and environmental sciences professor Frances (Ming) Kuo, say, “Although many children with ADHD are medicated, most would benefit from a low-cost, side-effect-free way of managing their symptoms.

Although past research backs up this new study, a perk of this specific study is that the authors looked at long-term benefits of chronic nature exposure, and found that the more kids played outside, the more kids experienced ADHD relief. The researchers also found out that kids who experience a lot of hyperactivity even had milder ADHD symptoms if they regularly played in any sort of green and expansive environment (such as a large soccer field or lawn) vs. a typical nature setting, such as a forest. It makes sense. In this country the amount of time kids play outside has dwindled to almost none, while cases of hyperactivity continue to rise, so it’s not surprising that there would be a connection. Being outside, in nature, benefits all humans. If you’re not getting outside enough; if your kids are too hooked into the internet and television; it’s time to make a change. Check out the following posts for helpful tips about getting back to nature:

Lead image ©hortongrou via sxc.

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2 Responses to “Playing in the Grass May be the Key to Easing ADHD Symptoms”

  1. egirons says:

    Awesome article. Talks about a subject that I feel has been seriously neglected. We would be raising a much healthier next generation if we would stop relaying on the next magic pill to “fix” our kids and just let them be active members of the environment. Encourage play in nature, let them be curious, let them explore – even if just in their own backyards – let them get dirty, let them learn to understand that they do have a place in the world and play a role in protecting and preserving the environment. We are all stewards of nature and we seal our own fate when we ignore and neglect the world we live in. God help us and fogive us the day grass stained knees are no longer a part of growing up.

  2. easel1 says:

    A new study? My goodness! Someone is behind the times. Or just maybe, no one ever listens when actual, true to life findings are made “in the field”. During the 60s era, when special education began in earnest, we few who were called upon to start the first “special ed” services were known as “those who were crazy enough” to take on ANY child that no one else wanted.

    Because we did, ours scheduling and programming revolved around the needs of the children rather than the bureaucratic “research” which did its best to “tell us what to do” with those they knew nothing about. That being said, our “special kid” school days had a few more recesses than a “normal” classroom. Oddly. . . our kids got a heck of a lot done and achieved somewhat more than some children in the regular classrooms – and this, despite the extra free times they “needed” to blow off steam and recharge their concentration batteries. ADHD???? Hmm. . . Better to take a deeper look at our child-rearing and child-education environments and techniques before we nail kids with an ever increasing number of symptoms and “diseases of normalcy” which always seem to revolve around a new and improved medication of one sort or another. But that should not be surprising. Even doctors world-wide are horrified at the extent to which the psychiatric milieu is recommending medicating more and more and younger and younger people. (See the 2013 edition of “The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders”) – available since March on this year. Reading it will draw shivers.

    Note: While working in a psychiatric team as a teacher-therapist (in the 70s) we finally got the medical establishment to reduce the drugs our in-hospital resident kids were “dependent on” to be “acceptably quiet”. Result? Calmer, more self-assured, more self-confident, more aware and rational children – who after a term of encouragement rather than submission were made ready for release from a hospital setting sooner.

    Where’s that program now? Killed. The education and medical ministries thought the whole thing (educating kids without drugs and within a hospital setting) cost too much. So back to what was – i.e.: medicating the inpatients and hiring fewer and fewer zealous teacher-therapists. . . (Sigh)

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