Today’s guest post about ADHD and the Outdoors is written by Valerie Johnston. Valerie is a health and fitness writer for Healthline.com
ADHD and The Outdoors
Sometimes it can seem like the effects of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are unavoidable. The inability to sustain concentration, the risky decision-making, and the constant hyper mood can make school and regular social situations difficult for any child with ADHD, added to the compounding feeling that there is no way to succeed with ADHD.
It can also feel like the side effects of prescribed medication for treating ADHD are just as unavoidable. Side effects include sleeplessness, loss of appetite, and emotional problems that are nearly as difficult to handle as the condition itself, among others.
But with more of an emphasis on natural, non-medical remedies for the symptoms of ADHD in recent years, there are promising signs that spending more time exercising and playing in the natural outdoors can do great things for addressing ADHD.
Mother Nature Can Help
Recent studies indicate that when children with ADHD spend more time in natural settings outdoors—exercising or just even just relaxing—their symptoms tend to decrease.
Exercise has been shown to be a positive way of alleviating some of the symptoms of ADHD, but spending time in natural areas such as parks, forests, or even the backyard instead inside or in manmade outdoor areas can help to magnify those benefits.
Researchers posit that the atmosphere of the outdoors has a calming effect that allows children from ADHD to focus their thoughts better than urban environments. The manmade world is full of distractions that make it even more difficult for children with ADHD to focus, whereas natural surroundings help people to slow down and collect their thoughts. Whereas focusing and processing information can be a challenge for kids with ADHD, a quiet setting facilitates such processes.
Some of the symptoms of ADHD come from the stimulations and demands of being in a closed environment such as school, sometimes called attention fatigue. Children with ADHD tend to struggle with paying attention for long periods of time, but nature provides a more appropriate balance of stimulation and peace for kids. The outdoors offers a calm, relaxing environment with a variety of stimulators that children can use to expend energy in a positive way.
Ideas for the Outdoors
Exercise of all kinds has been shown to be beneficial for neurological processes, especially for children with ADHD. The outdoors offers a variety of physical activities that can help.
Team sports taking place at parks, such as soccer or Frisbee offer both the chance to benefit from a natural setting and a chance to socialize with others in a low-stress setting. Individual sports can also have a positive effect, like running or cycling.
In more natural areas, hiking and exploring can be a fun way for children to pick up a new hobby and pick up a better appreciation for the natural world.
Studies also show that it doesn’t take much of a natural presence to have some positive effect. Reading or having a picnic at a park can be beneficial, and even a view of nature from indoors can help, such as reading or doing homework by a window that has a view of trees.
Using nature as a remedy for ADHD can be beneficial in a variety of ways. It encourages kids to get outdoors and exercise, already a challenge even without ADHD, and it’s a cheap, easy way to relieve children who otherwise face the constant frustrations of the condition. Spending time in natural environments can be an inexpensive (or free) alternative to medication, and it comes with none of the negative side effects.
So, if you’re looking for a new option for helping out with ADHD, just head outside and find something green!
Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.
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