Physical exercise, time outdoors dramatically reduces symptoms of ADHD in children, say researchers
Saturday, September 04, 2004 by: Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Researchers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign have discovered that a little time outdoors goes a long way towards reducing the symptoms of ADHD in children. Children from all over the country were observed during this study and the results showed that even children who had no previous reduction of symptoms with medication showed a definite improvement.
With nearly 2 million children in the United States alone that suffer from ADHD, this discovery could prove to be revolutionary as a new low-cost, safe therapy to reduce symptoms of ADHD. In fact, some children were able to cut their current dosage of medication in half just by spending some time outside.
Kids with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) should spend some quality after-school hours and weekend time outdoors enjoying nature, say researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The payoff for this "treatment" of children, 5 to 18 years old, who participated in a nationwide study, was a significant reduction of symptoms.
"The advantage for green outdoor activities was observed among children living in different regions of the United States and among children living in a range of settings, from rural to large city environments," wrote co-authors Frances E. Kuo and Andrea Faber Taylor.
"Overall, our findings indicate that exposure to ordinary natural settings in the course of common after-school and weekend activities may be widely effective in reducing attention deficit symptoms in children."
ADHD is a neurological disorder that affects some 2 million school-aged children, as well as up to 2 to 4 percent of adults, in the United States.
Those with ADHD often face serious consequences, such as problems in school and relationships, depression, substance abuse and on-the-job difficulties.
"These findings are exciting," said Kuo, a professor in the departments of natural resources and environmental sciences and of psychology at Illinois.
If clinical trials and additional research confirm the value of exposure to nature for ameliorating ADHD, daily doses of "green time" might supplement medications and behavioral approaches to ADHD, the authors suggest in their conclusion.
Some activities were conducted inside, others in outdoor places without much greenery, such as parking lots and downtown areas, and others in relatively natural outdoor settings such as a tree-lined street, back yard or park.
"A green dose could be a lifesaver for the 10 percent of children whose symptoms don't respond to medication, who are just stuck with the symptoms," Kuo said.
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