Skip to main content

ACES Expert: Nature exposure can ease ADHD symptoms

A photo of woman next to children in nature

URBANA, Ill. — As organizations bring attention to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in October for ADHD awareness month, a University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign expert says time in nature can ease symptoms of the common child- and adulthood condition. 

Andrea Faber Taylor, teaching assistant professor in the Department of Crop Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at U. of I., specializes in human dimensions of the environment and has studied the impact of nature exposure on children with ADHD, as well as related impacts of nature on self-regulationself-discipline, and learning in children.

In a key study, she found a 20-minute walk through a park was as effective for children with ADHD as methylphenidate — a common stimulant medication used to treat the condition — to temporarily improve concentration. In the study, she proposed “doses of nature” could be prescribed as a safe, inexpensive, and accessible tool for managing ADHD symptoms.

“Children with ADHD experience symptoms that mimic attentional fatigue,” Taylor said. “If you're attentionally fatigued, you are more impulsive, less able to stay focused, not as good at delaying gratification, and unable to think long-term. Our research shows that for children with ADHD, being in a green space is more supportive of them operating in their attention deficit than in other settings.”

Read the full release from the College of ACES.

About Extension

Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.