Tuesday, October 21, 2008

ADHD and Nature Walks

I was perusing the NY Times today when I came across an article on Tara Parker-Pope's blog on wellness about a small study conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign about nature walks for children with ADHD.

Here is a quote from her blog which can be found at http://tinyurl.com/5lqqhm

"A small study conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
looked at how the environment influenced a child’s concentration skills. The
researchers evaluated 17 children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,
who all took part in three 20-minute walks in a park, a residential neighborhood
and a downtown area.

After each walk, the children were given a standard
test called Digit Span Backwards, in which a series of numbers are said aloud
and the child recites them backwards. The test is a useful measure of attention
and concentration because practice doesn’t improve the score. The order of the
walks varied for all the children, and the tester wasn’t aware of which walk the
child had just taken.

The study, published online in the August The
Journal of Attention Disorders, found that children were able to focus better
after the “green” walks compared to walks in other settings."
I did not find this discovery to be at all surprising. This was a suggestion given to me when I was diagnosed with ADHD, and it's one I always recommend to parents. Whether a child is on medication or not, I recommend twenty to thirty minutes of outside play immediately after school before homework. Unfortunately, not all parents seem to believe me that it works. I am happy to have a study, be it small, to quote, rather than only my own experience.

For myself, I have learned that I am able to focus much better when I get home when I have gone for a run, once I recover a little...To help motivate myself, I like to sign up for races, it gives me something to work towards; if I don't, then I can come up with one hundred excuses not to exercise on any given day! I cherish my runs outdoors, breathing in the fresh air, having quiet time without interruption, and working my muscles. I also get a mental boost from the sense of accomplishment.

On a different note, I worry about "kids these days," to sound like an old lady. Most of them have such busy schedules, going from school, to soccer, to music, home or out for dinner, then homework. Does anyone play kickball on the street anymore after school? Does this over-scheduling have something to do with the increase in the diagnosis of AHD? I also wonder what happens to some of these kids when they get to college, and suddenly they are in charge of their time after classes. Do they know how to allocate their time wisely? I don't know, but I'd love to hear from some readers!

3 comments:

Joel Sherman said...

I never thought of this in terms of attention spans. I am addicted to exercise because I find it relaxing both to mind and body and I'm sure I can concentrate better afterwards, that is if I didn't exhaust myself. But it is surprising if a walk can serve just as well as a run or jog. The good news for me is that as I age, my walking and exercising aren't as different as they used to be.
Just think what I’ll be able to accomplish when getting out of bed becomes my day's exercise :).

Kitt said...

My sister was diagnosed with ADHD when she almost flunked out of her first semester at Wellesley. Before she got to college she was on an INSANE schedule nearly everyday of school -> track or cross country practice -> dinner&homework -> ballet class. She did great in high school.

Roop said...
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