Researchers from the University of Illinois are proposing that the 4.4 million children in the United States diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) might benefit from putting away the video games and playing outside.

The study, which was recently published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, involved 400 children diagnosed with ADHD. The researchers explored data from a national, online survey from 2004 consisting of parents of children with ADHD. The survey concluded that “activities conducted in greener outdoor settings did correlate with milder symptoms immediately afterward, compared to activities in other settings,” according to an Illinois press release. In this new study, the goal was to see whether routine exposure to “green play settings” — whether it be a park, a playground or a back yard — would have an impact on ADHD severity.

“On the whole, the green settings were related to milder overall symptoms than either the ‘built outdoors’ or ‘indoors’ settings,” said researcher Andrea Faber Taylor.

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David Gilden is battling against the notion that ADHD is an attention disorder. The University of Texas at Austin psychologist says the disorder could actually be a glitch in timing in the brain.

“ADHD is not about inattention,” Gilden said to The Behavioral Medicine Report. “It’s a disorder in the way people thread moment-to-moment experiences together. Children with ADHD are often disruptive because their world is moving at a much faster pace and there’s always going to be a mismatch between their world and ours.”

Even brief moments in nature can benefit our mental health, says the Happiness Lab at Carleton University.

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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