Take a dose of nature this week

Punxsutawney Phil must have had a breakthrough in coaching because it's shaping up to be a beautiful week here in central Pennsylvania.  Way to go, Phil, deciding to face your fear of shadows! Now we can take  a dose of nature to improve our ADHD symptoms.

We've known for a long time that exercise is essential to good health, both physical and mental.  But there's more.  A recent study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders shows that being out in nature does more to improve attention than exercising in an urban setting. "From our previous research, we knew there might be a link between spending time in nature and reduced ADHD symptoms," said researcher Andrea Faber Taylor, who conducted the study at Illinois University along with co-researcher Frances E. Kuo. "So to confirm that link we conducted a study in which we took children on walks in three different settings – one especially "green" and two less "green" – and kept everything about the walks as similar as possible." "When we compared the scores for the walks in different environments, we found that after the walk in the park children generally concentrated better than they did after a walk in the downtown area or the neighborhood area. The greenest space was best at improving attention after exposure." She went on to say that a walk in nature may actually be more effective than medication, at least in the short term.  "We calculated the size of the effect in our study and compared it to the size of effects in a recent medication study, and we were surprised to see that the dose of nature had effects the same size or even larger than the dose of medication."

Long term effects were not studied, although previous research suggests a relationship between the amount of time spent in green spaces and the severity of symptoms.  "Children who have regular exposure to green spaces have milder symptoms overall. So that's hinting that there may be a persistent effect," said Kuo.

I know I feel much more focused and alert after a walk in the woods compared to a walk around my Camp Hill neighborhood.  I notice a difference in my performance if I miss my weekend hike.   It's nice here in town, but it just doesn't have the same energy.

So try to get to the park this week and enjoy this marvelous weather.  If you happen to run into Punxsutawney Phil, give him a high-five for me.