Children with attention deficits concentrate better after walk in the park
a University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
b Landscape and Human Health Laboratory, University of Illinois, 1101 W. Peabody Drive, Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801
Objective: In the general population, attention is reliably enhanced after exposure to certain physical environments, particularly natural environments. This study examined the impacts of environments on attention in children with ADHD. Method: In this within subjects design, each participant experienced each of three treatments (environments) in single blind controlled trials. Seventeen children 7 to12 years old professionally diagnosed with ADHD experienced each of three environmentsĝ€"a city park and two other well-kept urban settingsĝ€"via individually guided 20-minute walks. Environments were experienced 1 week apart, with randomized assignment to treatment order. After each walk, concentration was measured using Digit Span Backwards. Results: Children with ADHD concentrated better after the walk in the park than after the downtown walk (p =.0229) or the neighborhood walk (p =.0072). Effect sizes were substantial (Cohen's d =.52 and.77, respectively) and comparable to those reported for recent formulations of methylphenidate. Conclusion: Twenty minutes in a park setting was sufficient to elevate attention performance relative to the same amount of time in other settings. These findings indicate that environments can enhance attention not only in the general population but also in ADHD populations. ĝ€ Doses of natureĝ€ might serve as a safe, inexpensive, widely accessible new tool in the tool kit for managing ADHD symptoms. (J. of Att. Dis. 2009; 12(5) 402-409).