ABSTRACT Previous research has suggested that exposure to outdoor surroundings is associated with improved attention and concentration among children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD). This effect has been attributed to the impact of exposure to “green space” in restoring fatigued attention. Because of concerns about side effects and misuse of stimulant medication, there has been considerable interest in green space exposure as a possible alternative or complementary therapy for ADHD. In the current study, adults completed a 20 minute walk in three types of outdoor settings: a wooded trail, a residential neighborhood, and a parking lot. Participants completed subtests from the Wechsler Memory Scale assessing attention, concentration, and short-term memory as well as the Profile of Mood States, a self-report measure for assessing current emotional status. Based upon previous green space research, it was anticipated that participants in the wooded trail condition would perform better on the cognitive tasks. However, there was no difference between the three conditions in participants’ pre- and post-walk cognitive functioning. When data from the three groups were pooled, there was a significant benefit associated with the 20 minute walk for short-term memory as well in reducing tension, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and confusion. The results do suggest that relatively brief outdoor physical activity may be a useful complementary intervention for persons with conditions adversely affecting short-term memory
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