The Great Outdoors and ADHD

Sometimes being outside is the best ADHD treatment.


Filed Under: Exercise and ADHD

Take your son to the woods, a favorite stream or lake and stand together for a while, just listening and watching.

Todd Holt, fourth-grade teacher in East Newton County, Missouri

As a 33-year-old teacher who was diagnosed with ADHD as a child, I deal with it on a daily basis both as a patient and a professional. For the most part, I am able to use it to my advantage, but every once in a while, it gets the best of me, and I get told to "go fishing."

My Momma didn't raise a fool, and I know that when your wife says "go fishing," you would be totally and completely off of your rocker not to take her up on the offer. When I come back, I always seem to be much more focused and ready to do some work.

A hunter in a farmer's world

The outdoors is quite a busy place. Perhaps that is why, being hyperactive myself, I seem to fit. Boys and men are three times more likely to embody the "H" in ADHD than are girls. For me, "H" also stands for the "hunter" instinct. A "Hunter" says Thom Hartmann, author of A.D.D: A Different Perception, "is constantly monitoring his environment, able to throw himself into the chase at a moment's notice and is bored by mundane tasks; he enjoys new ideas, excitement, 'the hunt' and being hot on the trail."

Maybe it is the thrill of the "hunt." When I am stalking that elusive trout, I am completely and totally focused on the task at hand I don't have a care in the world. Not all hunting is meant for me, though. I teach in a rural school in southwest Missouri, and everyone deer hunts - everyone except me. I hate sitting and waiting for the deer. Give me a field of quail any day - I get to move, not just sit and wait. Fishing is the same way. I like to use my brain to help catch them, but it is no fun for me to just bait a hook, throw it out there and wait.

Go outside and play!

Physical activities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and swimming keep boys energies engaged and can build strength and self-confidence. Wilderness programs and scouting teach discipline, focus and responsibility - I was active in the Boy Scouts throughout my childhood and it was a great experience for me.

The most enjoyable experience about being outdoors for your son, however, just might be the time he gets to spend with you. Take him to the woods, a favorite stream or lake and stand together for a while, just listening and watching. There's a whole world outside of ADHD for him - and it's something he needs to see!

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