Natural Greenery Improves ADHD Symptoms

According to the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), 11 percent of children in America suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Many stimulant or non-stimulant drugs are prescribed for children, which raises the concern of side effects such as insomnia, low appetite, moodiness, and suicidal thoughts. Research over the past two decades reveals that there is a viable alternative to drugs for treating ADHD in children: the great, green outdoors!

Take a Walk in the Park

Researchers examined what would happen to ADHD symptoms in children after the youngsters took a 20-minute walk. The children walked through three different settings: a park, a neighborhood, and a downtown area. After the walk, the children were tested for how mentally tired they became after paying attention to a task. Walking through the park improved the children’s performance much more than walking through a neighborhood or downtown area. The noise levels in each of the three settings were similar, so the researchers concluded that the greenness and spaciousness of the park was likely the cause.

Greenery Works for Many Categories of Children

Does the positive effects of playing in the green outdoors only work for certain types of children but not others? A study showed that the green outdoors improved the attention of children who suffered from ADHD regardless of factors that make children unique from each other. It didn’t matter if they were boys or girls, how much money their parents made, or the greenness of the places in which they lived. Playing in green outdoor space worked for many different categories of children.

Open Green Space Shows the Most Promise

Some green spaces are better than others when it comes to treating ADHD symptoms. Researchers compared the severity of different symptoms after children played in different types of green spaces. The type that showed the most positive effects were those that were open green spaces. Natural, open green spaces were superior to outdoor or indoor settings that were human-made.

Now there’s even more motivation for children to put down the screens and go out and play!


Andrea F. Taylor and Frances E. Kuo. “Children With Attention Deficits Concentrate Better After Walk in the Park.” Journal of Attention Disorders. March 2009, vol. 12 no. 5 402-409

Andrea F. Taylor and Frances E. Kuo. “A Potential Natural Treatment for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Evidence From a National Study.” American Journal of Public Health. 2004 September; 94(9): 1580–1586.

Andrea F. Taylor and Frances E. Kuo. “Could Exposure to Everyday Green Spaces Help Treat ADHD? Evidence from Children's Play Settings.” Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. November 2011, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp. 281–303.


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